Nashville Erupts over Hybrid School Schedule
Nashville Scrappers live up to their name.
Nashville School District Superintendent Doug Graham is looking to improve test scores and lower absenteeism.
South Arkansas Reckoning received a video/audio of a Dec. 18, 2023, town hall meeting where Graham addressed the community members.
Attendance in school districts seems to have shifted in the wake of COVID-19. Administrators statewide are looking for ways to make improvements in hopes of increasing overall student learning. Graham spoke of multiple reasons why he believes an adjustment from a traditional school calendar could improve teacher/student attendance as well as student learning.
According to Graham, a hybrid school schedule could be a solution needed to help improve the Nashville School District’s “C” average rating.
In the video/audio, Graham mentioned adding longer breaks at different times during the school year that would allow for more opportunities for families to plan doctors appointments and vacations.
Graham said in the meeting that Hispanic families return home late from Mexico causing student absences. Graham said these families could benefit from the hybrid schedule by having more opportunities to visit family members at different times of the year.
Community members have concerns
South Arkansas Reckoning has received numerous tips about issues in the Nashville School District.
On the hybrid school issue, social media debates have erupted over this possible change.
Parents and community members spoke out in the December meeting voicing their concerns.
Parents discussed issues such as working full-time jobs. Some parents say they will not have access to childcare during the many breaks throughout the school year under the hybrid schedule.
Graham responded in the meeting with a plan to have the school open and buses run as usual to provide daycare for students in order to help parents who may need assistance with daycare services.
Graham mentioned data supporting a positive impact in the Hamburg School District after changing to a hybrid schedule.
On Jan. 8, we studied the Nashville School District's state required information on its website. It told a story of missing documents, board minutes, audio files and limited information.
South Arkansas Reckoning formally requested documents.
Under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act, South Arkansas Reckoning requested all information Graham had compiled concerning the hybrid schedule including data about the Hamburg School District. We received one-page of Hamburg data.
The Hamburg School District transitioned from a traditional schedule in the fall of 2023. It saw a 59% increase in staff attendance in September 2023 and a 66% increase in October. The Hamburg School District also experienced a reduction in student absenteeism of 1,016.5 in the first quarter of their school year.
The Hamburg document from the Nashville School District stated “survey of patrons & teachers in December 23 had 100% approval on hybrid schedule.”
Questions and Answers
Nashville has a student population of 25% Hispanic, 25% African-American and 50% Caucasian.
The Nashville School district population is 1,913 students with an average daily attendance of 1,828 students with state and federal funding per student in the amount of $7,618 or $14,573,234 in state and federal funding.
When asked by email about funding for teacher salary and costs incurred by the district to run busses on scheduled off days in the hybrid schedule, Graham responded:
“No special funds, no grants, funds would have to come out of our balance.”
When asked about the cost of cafeteria services on scheduled off days he responded: “We outsource our food service, they have a very healthy balance, but will have to get their input before [I] know how much it will cost, [I'm] hoping most expenses will be reimbursable.”
When asked about his statement in the town hall video/audio referencing Hispanic students returning to school late from trips to Mexico, we asked: How will the hybrid schedule you are proposing correct that issue?
Graham responded: “No idea if it will help but providing more breaks MIGHT help, no promises.”
South Arkansas Reckoning asked if the district has plans to perform any anonymous online polling concerning the potential hybrid schedule change, Graham responded:
“Must sign name and have valid email address before you can participate in poll. People won’t be able to vote multiple times.”
South Arkansas Reckoning received documents in our FOIA request showing results of a poll.
We reached out to concerned stakeholders in the district who did not want to be identified because of fear of retaliation. They said they had not received a poll. One of them said, “Never been a parent poll.”
Graham stated: “Contrary to some of the Anti-hybrid [discussion], there is no agenda. I said it was worth discussion. I haven’t made [a] proposal or recommendation at this point. I’ve been on a traditional calendar for 50+ years. Continuing won’t upset me at all.”
The Nashville School District's Board of Directors plan to meet Jan. 22, for their monthly board meeting. Community members have created a Facebook event encouraging all patrons and parents to attend.
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