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updated: 9/25/2013 11:50 AM

Barrington High School semester change plan gets mixed reviews

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A recommendation to end first semester at Barrington High School before winter break each year was met with a fairly even mix of supporters and critics at a public input meeting Tuesday.

Critics of the proposal started the meeting more passionately. But supporters and members of the advisory panel that made the recommendation caught up when the integrity of their research and deliberation was called into question.

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One of the Input 220 Advisory Council's key findings was that no school district that had made such a change from mid-January final exams ever changed back.

The 35-member panel has been researching whether any changes to the school calendar in Barrington Unit District 220 might be beneficial to students without causing any unintended side effects.

The recommendation will be made to the district's school board at 7 p.m. Oct. 15.

School board President Brian Battle said he didn't know how long it would take the board to consider the recommendation, whether it would suggest changes of its own, or what year any changes might be implemented.

The main benefits of the recommendation the advisory panel argued are that it removes the stress of finals during winter break, somewhat evens out the length of both semesters and achieves these goals without moving the first day of the year earlier than its present Aug. 20.

Barrington High School PTO President Claire Hamilton was among those in support of the recommendation.

"Why wouldn't we make a change to benefit our 3,000 high school students?" she said. "They are our future."

Cindy Guerrero teaches a required health education class at Barrington High School. She said making the experience of the class comparable for all is difficult with the three-week difference that currently exists between the first and second semesters.

But parents Joe and Kim Holland were among those who saw no benefits in the change, only the uncertain impact on family schedules.

"Sometimes doing nothing is the right answer," Joe Holland said. "This is one of those times."

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