Superintendent: Don't change District 103 start times next year

Superintendent cites transportation, cost

After months of study and public debate, Lincolnshire-Prairie View School District 103 officials are leaning against changing the start or end times at the district's three campuses next fall.

Financial concerns and busing issues were key factors in Superintendent Scott Warren's preliminary recommendation, which he presented during Tuesday night's board meeting at Wright Junior High School.

Although Warren said he favors starting classes for Wright Junior High students later, the district can't afford the additional expenses that would result from the shift, he said.

"Changing the times now would not be prudent," Warren wrote in his report. "I recommend revisiting this topic when it can be done in a more fiscally stable time."

The board didn't vote on the issue Tuesday. Warren said he expects to have a final version of his report ready for the board's Jan. 19 meeting.

Primarily, board members and administrators had been considering starting classes at Wright later than the current 7:50 a.m. They were inspired, in part, by recent recommendations from national health experts who said starting school too early can keep older students from getting enough sleep.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is among the agencies recommending 8:30 a.m. start times for middle schools and high schools.

Students and teachers at the other two District 103 campuses, Sprague School and Half Day School, get going at 9 a.m. Officials were considering moving up the start of the day at those facilities to as early as 8:15 a.m.

Sprague serves preschoolers through second-graders. Half Day houses third- and fourth-graders. Wright is for fifth- through eighth-graders.

In tackling the issue, officials surveyed students about their sleep habits, interviewed parents and teachers, studied possible bus routes and examined the potential effects on the budget and after-school programs.

They developed two scenarios unveiled at Tuesday's meeting.

In one plan, Sprague would start at 8:15, Wright would start at 8:30 and Half Day would start at 9 a.m. End times would change, too.

This option would require four additional school buses and drivers, Warren said. That would cost the district at least an additional $200,000 annually, according to Warren's report. More kids would be on each bus, and routes would be longer, administrators told the board Tuesday.

In the other plan, Sprague and Half Day would start at 8:15 a.m. while Wright would start at 8:55 a.m.

The second scenario wouldn't require more buses. But it would force some Wright students in extracurricular activities that require travel - such as athletics - to regularly miss class time because the school day there would end at 4 p.m.

"That would be a concern for me," Warren told the board.

Staffers who sponsor such activities would miss the last period of the day, too, requiring the use of substitute teachers.

Warren told the board he wants to continue investigating options.

"I don't want to rush this," he said. "I want to give it the time that we need."

As a temporary alternative to changing start times, Warren suggested educating parents, students and teachers about how kids can maximize sleep opportunities.

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Dist. 103 considering starting school day at 8:30 a.m. or later

District 103 officials to discuss plan to start classes later

District 103 to survey students on sleep and start times

School times may change in District 103

  Scott Warren Russell Lissau/ 2015
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