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posted: 3/31/2010 12:01 AM

Lake Park may restructure, extend school day

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Students at Lake Park High School in Roselle may see more changes in their schedules next fall than just new classes and teachers.

Lake Park District 108 school board members and administrators are considering restructuring the school day for the 2010-11 academic year. Major changes in the cost-neutral plan could include adding 10 minutes to the school day while shortening each of eight periods by two minutes.

The plan would give students between 22 and 48 minutes of free time for lunch and to seek out additional resources such as math or reading tutoring, computer labs or meetings with counselors.

Other changes include eliminating split classes, where students break for lunch in the middle of a class period. The early bird option to start classes before the normal first period will remain so students can maximize their schedules.

Associate Superintendent Lynn Panega said the changes would help learning and compliment the Lancer Design for Excellence, Lake Park's recent curriculum overhaul aimed at raising test scores.

"This is about a commitment to providing additional interventions and support to students," Panega said.

Although the board did not vote to adopt a new schedule, members continued deliberations Monday that have been in motion for about six months. They will continue discussions on the matter with the teachers union and administration and Panega said a vote is expected in April.

On Monday, board member Martin Tasch expressed concern some students may not use their newly created free time for academics. But German teacher and union representative Julie Lyden countered that teachers will have a responsibility under the new schedule to help students use their time effectively.

"If that's my student time (to supervise a study hall or lunch period), it is my job to say 'What are you working on?'" Lyden said. "If there is a student who is doing fine, performing above expectation and using that time to unwind, that's also OK sometimes."

Board members Joan DiPiero and Judith Briggs spoke in support of the changes. DiPiero said extra time also would give students more opportunities to work on group projects that are difficult to coordinate after school.

"This is going to give them on-campus project time for history, for lab sciences and I think this is the best way we could do it," DiPiero said. "Kids can't meet anymore (after school) because they have jobs."

If a new schedule is approved next month, administrators will monitor its success next year to make sure it actually helps students.

"Any time we implement such a big initiative, there would be ongoing evaluation. teacher and administrative feedback," Panega said.