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posted: 1/17/2013 12:01 AM

Dist. 15 parents want Friday early release option

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Parents in Palatine Township Elementary District 15 are speaking out against plans that could put a late start or early release on Mondays or Wednesdays next year.

Officials are finalizing a plan that will change the schedules of 20 schools in the district to accommodate a provision under the new teachers contract requiring weekly time for faculty and team meetings and other professional development opportunities.

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

A survey with four options of how to change the schedule has been available online and has already received more than 1,300 responses, said Superintendent Scott Thompson. The survey will be available until Jan. 21, but some parents aren't happy with the options to choose from.

Parent Lisa Szczupaj was one of several parents who spoke at a packed school board meeting on Wednesday night. While she supports more professional development for teachers, she said an early release on Friday afternoon would be the best possibility.

"The impact of an early release on a Friday afternoon would be much more manageable to working and stay-at-home parents than any other time of the week," she said.

Szczupaj said a petition asking for a Friday option already has more than 200 signatures.

Parent Kathy Vanbrunt said the idea that working parents would need to pay for additional child care before or after school to accommodate this plan was both "ridiculous" and "impossible."

"We are all for excellence in teaching, but there are better ways to accomplish this without a serious impact on the community," she said

Thompson originally said an early release on Fridays was ruled out because it would not be the most productive time for teachers, but he said he would be willing to reconsider if that seems to be a best time for parents.

The new schedules will go into effect next fall, and Thompson said he would like the board to approve a plan later this winter to give everyone involved time to adjust to the changes ahead.

District 15 will be holding a forum for parents from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26, at Walter R. Sundling Junior High School, 1100 N. Smith St. in Palatine.

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