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updated: 12/21/2012 3:25 PM

Dist. 15 schools to change next year's schedules

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The schedules at all 20 schools in Palatine Township Elementary District 15 will look significantly different next year.

District officials are finalizing a plan that likely will push start times back by 40 minutes on Wednesdays and push them up by 10 minutes each of the four remaining days.

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The shift will accommodate a provision under the new teachers' contract requiring weekly time for teachers to hold faculty and team meetings and other professional development opportunities.

"Our goal is to have everything in place to let parents know the schedules for next year by January," Superintendent Scott Thompson said. "So that would give them plenty of time to make arrangements for the fall."

Since many professional development events currently take place during the school day, the future schedule is expected to greatly reduce the need for substitute teachers.

A series of meetings to figure out logistics have taken place involving the district's transportation, food service and before- and after-school program staffs, as well as representatives from day care providers, park districts, parochial schools and other groups, Thompson said.

Board member Manjula Sriram said she's concerned that families in which both parents work will have a difficult time with the new schedule. She'd prefer the scheduling change come at the end of the school day.

"When you have a late start, you do have to change your schedule and all of that versus early finish, where children are already going to day cares and after-school programs," she said.

A district survey showed most elementary schools with similar professional development time blocks tend toward early dismissals while high schools typically start late.

Still, the late start/early release committee reached a consensus that starting late would have less negative impact to all involved parties, and that uniform dismissal times would benefit extracurricular involvement.

"There are many after-school activities that kids are participating in that would be impacted" by early dismissal on Wednesday's, Thompson said. "Teachers would be unavailable to work with kids, so you'd probably lose one day a week."

Thompson said there will be opportunities for parents to offer feedback.

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