The first day of school is approaching quickly. Faculty and staff at Blackduck schools have been busy with workshops, getting their classrooms ready and preparing schedules for the new four-day week voted into place last spring.
"We've had a number of different speakers who have been here this week for our workshops," said Superintendent Bob Doetsch. "We've had speakers talk about diabetes, gangs and toxic solvents. They were all very good speakers and the staff seemed to enjoy them."
Doetsch, along with the rest of the staff at the schools, is ready for the students to return.
"The school just isn't the same without the students," said Lunch Room Programmer Jo Lange. "I'm really excited for them to come back."
Anticipation over how the new four-day week will run is something faculty, staff, students and parents are all feeling as Sept. 8 draws near.
"I think this new development is an exciting adventure," Doetsch said. "I expect it is going to work exceptionally well."
Doetsch's optimism is something he feels is shared by a majority of those affected by the change.
"Of course, along the way we are going to run into a few bumps and we will have to fix those," he said. "We have devoted a lot of our time trying to straighten the path out."
Lange agrees. "I think that everyone will come to enjoy this change. It can be scary because its new, but I am confident everything will work out perfectly."
Lange also looks forward to having a scheduled breakfast for the elementary kids.
"I think that will be really important," Lange said. "With the longer day, the lunch periods will be a bit later, so the elementary kids will have a breakfast to prevent them from being exhausted or tired at the end of the day."
Lange went on to explain that there will be several dollars saved by this new schedule. The lunchroom staff will go down to around 36 hours per week instead of 40 and 20 percent less food will be ordered.
"I look forward to a pretty good savings," she said. "I'm always open to new ideas. I think everyone will give it their best shot to make this new adjustment work."
Lange, who has had five children go through school, hopes that this four-day week will give teachers and students more one on one time, which is a huge benefit in her mind.
"I'm also the student council advisor and all of the students I work with have had no complaints on having only four days of school," she said.
Doetsch noted that there will be unanswered questions people may have until a routine is settled into.
"We are trying to be proactive about everything involved in this change," he said.
Before officially coming in to play, Doetsch did a lot of research of the four-day week and feels that students will adjust well.
"I think the younger kids are more accepting of this than the older students," he said. "I predict it'll take about four weeks for the little kids and six weeks for the big kids to adjust."
Doetsch pointed out goals the school has set in accordance to the four-day week.
The first goal is to keep and maintain academic stability. The Blackduck School District prides itself on having the highest test scores in the area.
"I want to keep our academic standpoint going. I am very proud of the kids, teachers, parents and of the school itself," he said.
The second goal is to save money. The district's capital outlay, which is funds spent for the acquisition of a long-term asset, are just about down to zero. Doetsch said that money is being spent down before the school has to ask for a referendum.
"We did discuss throwing out a bond referendum this summer," he said. "That specific referendum would be for things like the roof and heating system that will need to be replaced in the future."
Doetsch went on to explain that four new teachers were hired for this academic year. He believes that they will be just as good as everyone else at the school.
"We have just an exceptional staff," said Doetsch.
Only time and attitudes will tell on how this new change for the Blackduck schools really will lay out. The four-day week will be reevaluated in the spring, hopefully including input from the parents on how they feel this year went.