New Diana ISD Bond

New Diana ISD Superintendent Carl Key talks in February 2022 about some of the campus improvements targeted in a May 2022 bond referendum.

The New Diana ISD board approved moving to a four-day school week beginning in the 2023-24 school year.

Trustees on Monday also tabled a decision on a bond referendum.

Before Monday evening’s vote, the board heard from two parents who voiced concerns about the shorter school week.

Suzanne Westmoreland said she has a child in the seventh grade.

She told trustees she supports teachers, the administration and the school board, but she wanted to understand more about how the new schedule would work.

Westmoreland said she previously had spoken with Trustee TJ Shafer via text and received information, but she wanted more. Her son plays sports, and from her understanding, student athletes still will be required to come to school on Fridays unlike other students and staff, she said.

According to information given to Westmoreland, buses will still run on Fridays, and cafeteria staff also will be on campus.

“Are the buses gonna take the children back home and then come and pick them up again?” she asked the board. “I just wanna clearly understand how the Fridays being off versus maybe another day in the week such as Monday.”

She added that she works five days a week and doesn’t have the option to work four. Also, many students depend on school for their daily meals, which would be cut short with the four-day week, she said.

Aside from bus drivers and cafeteria workers on campus, Westmoreland questioned who would watch the students who had to show up on Fridays.

“I need a better picture. I’m not against it, but I’m not fully for it either. ... I think that we need more information as a community,” she said.

After she spoke, Superintendent Carl Key said he had heard from a couple of parents — one who was indifferent to the change but wanted more information and another who was in favor and wanted to know more about the process.

Key added that the board chose Friday as the day off instead of Monday because in research, trustees found a four-day week was a much stronger model with Monday included in the schedule.

A motion in favor of adopting the new schedule was made by Trustee Jodie Stark, and seconded by Shafer. The motion passed 4-3.

Another East Texas district, Athens ISD was the first pre-K through 12th grade school in Texas to adopt a four-day instructional week.

In other business, the New Diana school board voted to indefinitely table an item related to a proposed bond package.

A $23.76 million bond proposal that would have allowed the district to make major renovations and add a new gym, parking lot and tennis courts failed in May 2022.

Key said the district’s architect no longer would be supporting it moving forward but did not give a reason why.

“They’ve met the contractual obligations they had previously but are unable to move forward,” Key told the board.

Additionally, he said as superintendent, he would be unable to promote a potential bond, but a “vocal group of parents” in favor of it had expressed interest in supporting a political action committee to promote it.

Key said a new bond referendum would be broken into six propositions as opposed to two as in 2022. It was not clear yet what each proposition would include.

Shafer asked Key when the board would have to vote on placing the bond proposal on the November ballot instead of May. Key said the vote would be moved to August.

Key was unavailable for comment Tuesday.

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