Barrington Area Unit School District 220 middle school students will have less time to get themselves from class to class next year.
In a move to end the school day sooner, the school board approved a plan that would reduce passing periods at Prairie and Station middle schools from four minutes to three.
Linda Klobucher, the district's assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, said the decision was made so their students could compete in sports and academics with middle schools that don't end their school days so late.
"While it's only seven minutes, I believe going from a 3:55 p.m. dismissal to a 3:48 p.m. dismissal is going to help our kids get ready for their after-school activities sooner," Klobucher said after the meeting.
As a result of the school board's long-debated decision in November to move back start times, middle school students will next year begin their day at 9 a.m., more than an hour later than their current start time of 7:55 a.m. The change was made to improve student health and wellness.
The plan was presented by Prairie Principal Travis Lobbins and Station Principal Craig Winkelman.
Board member Wendy Farley expressed concern that students might not have enough time to travel long distances, such as to and from the mobile class rooms at Prairie. Lobbins said the policy has been to dismiss students who are leaving the mobile class rooms to go to gym a little early so they aren't late.
The principals expressed their confidence that students would adjust to the shorter passing periods.
Board member Joe Ruffolo said he liked the plan and thought that shortening the passing periods might have other benefits.
"Passing periods in schools tend to be times when there's a tendency for students to do more harm than good," he said.
The district staff will continue working to try to ensure a smooth transition to the new schedule in the fall and will continue providing the board with regular updates.