Joni Hirst has one daughter who leaves for school at 6:30 in the morning and another who comes home at 6:30 at night.
With after-school activities, the family usually doesn’t sit down to dinner until 7 p.m. and often stays up until 11 p.m. finishing homework.
The schedule is familiar to many Post Falls families coping with double-shifting.
“It’s hard on your family,” said Hirst, who has daughters in the seventh and 10th grades who rarely see their dad because of the schedule. “You have a very long day.”
Eighth-grade earth science teacher Kurt Koetter also knows about long days under double-shifting. He gets to Post Falls Middle School about 5:30 a.m. to set up for his first class at 7 a.m. and usually stays until 3:30 p.m.
But he’s one of the lucky ones. Most teachers have to share their classrooms and can’t stay past their shift.
“I’ve always been a morning person, so I don’t mind the mornings,” Koetter said. “But we don’t get a chance to interact at all with the afternoon staff. We were a pretty tight bunch. Everybody else is sharing rooms. It’s a real mess.”
The school started double-shifting in September to unclog crowded hallways and classrooms. Most parents and teachers agree that even the inconveniences of double-shifting are better than the volatile situation created by the packed school.
“I’d rather see her in double-shifting than in an overcrowded school,” said Debbie Mykkanen, who has daughters in elementary school and in seventh grade.
Under the new schedule, eighth-graders and half of the district’s seventh-graders begin school at 7 a.m. and are finished at 12:18 p.m. Sixth-graders and the remaining seventh-graders begin at 12:30 p.m. and finish at 5:48 p.m.
Two months after the program began, 13-year-old Nick Scherling was killed by a drunken driver while walking home in the dark after the afternoon shift. Many blamed his death on double-shifting, and parents and school administrators banded together to hand out reflective lights to students.
Seventh-grade English teacher Page Harmon, who also teaches one physical education class, said afternoon-shift teachers are having problems scheduling the courses necessary for their recertification as teachers.
Harmon calls students in her gym class “the nomads” because they’ve had to find creative places to meet when afternoon sports take over the gym.
She’s taken them bowling, has taught them how to keep scorebooks at basketball games and has gone over rules in an available classroom.
“Parents of elementary school students have to realize if they don’t get this thing passed, their kids will be double-shifting,” Harmon said. “The fourth-graders will be double-shifting.”
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: Voter options The first option on the Post Falls bond issue is to build a $17.97 million high school. Building a new high school on Poleline Road near Prairie View Elementary would cost $14.9 million; furniture and equipment would cost $800,000; road improvements would add another $200,000; architecture and engineering fees would cost $946,000; and other fees associated with construction would cost $1.1 million. If the second part of the bond passes, it would raise another $2.89 million. Broken down, that’s about $800,000 to fix the heating system at the current high school; $122,000 for architecture and engineering fees; $1.24 million for an auditorium; $200,000 for bleachers; $200,000 for an all-weather track; $100,000 for lights; and $250,000 for a concession stand, restrooms and a press box.