After a bitter debate that has divided the community, the North Summit school board has voted to retain its four-day school week for at least another year.
Board members also decided to extend the school year by three school weeks or 12 more days - without deciding whether teachers should be paid for the additional time.Opponents of the four-day week greeted the lengthened school year as a compromise but question whether teachers should receive extra pay for the additional days.
That contention has triggered rumblings of a possible job action by members of the North Summit Education Association.
Meanwhile, district officials have been directed to comb through an already austere budget to find funds that could be reallocated to teacher pay.
Board president Arlen Judd said "not all board members are necessarily in agreement" that the longer hours teachers work on the four-day schedule over a 144-day school year are equivalent to the hours worked on a traditional five-day calendar over 180 days.
Vicki Edgel, president of the North Summit Education Association, said she is seeing increased militancy among educators and there's a prospect of a confrontation with the school board.
"I'm not a strike person myself, but if that's what they want . . ." she said.
The debate over the four-day week, which was started in 1988 to help the district save money, has been divisive in North Summit, a small rural district that draws its 900 students from Coalville, Hoytsville, Wanship, Echo and Henefer.
The four-day week helped solve the financial crisis and has found overwhelming support among both teachers and students, said Richard Keene, a state Office of Education consultant who conducted attitude surveys and prepared test score ana-lyses for the school board.
District test scores, which were already very good, have continued to improve under the four-day concept, Keene said.
Teachers' initial skepticism about the four-day week has vanished, Ed-gel said.
Leon Simister, a North Summit insurance broker who says he represents nearly 500 people who believe local students should spend more time in school, maintains that students lose 50 hours of class time under the counting method being used.
"The group I represent just wanted more than four days a week in school for our children," said Simis-ter, who was narrowly defeated in the last school board election.