Kelley said school board members Eddie Whittemore and Tim Jackson went to a school leadership meeting this summer and returned with information on the four-day school week in Webster County.
"Whether it's a fit for Lincoln County is yet to be determined. We're a big county and you have to take into consideration child care and all kinds of other things. We wouldn't throw this on anyone without a lot of conversation and a lot of planning. We'd have public meetings to answer questions, and if the people like it we'd leave it on the table," Kelley said.
An additional benefit to Lincoln County would be a reduction in the number of classified employee hours worked in the district, particularly in food services. As Janet Jacobs, food services director for the county frequently points out to the board, when the state mandates raises for employees, they are not accompanied by funds for the food-services workers.
Food services is run as a separate business with a refund from the federal government for free and reduced lunches; however, they receive no local, county or state tax money.
"Every year the deficit grows. It used to be that foods services had a pretty good bank balance, and the ladies deserve every pay raise they get, but because of the pay raises and the increasing cost of food, their bank balance is gone," Jacobs said.
This is a concern for the Kentucky Education Association (KEA), which represents both certified and classified employees. While the KEA does not have an official position on the four-day school week, said its Executive Director Mary Ann Blankenship, the KEA is "concerned about a reduction in pay for classified employees like cooks and bus drivers." The KEA is also concerned "about whether it is good for kids. We're not sure it's the best thing from a safety and health standpoint for the children. In many cases, school is the safest place for a child to be."
While there are sound fiscal arguments for a four-day school week, there can also be some very important side benefits, most notably improved attendance and a boost in student performance, as seen in Webster County, whose most recent report card shows the small, rural district performed better then state averages in standardized testing, graduation, retention and successful transition to adult life