District 214 will have later start times next school year

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to say that lunch periods are being shortened to 45 or 48 minutes from 50 minutes.

Starting in August, students who attend Northwest Suburban High School District 214 will get to sleep in a little later.

The school board has approved later start times, a move officials believe could lead to increased student attendance and achievement.

Under a two-year pilot program approved unanimously by the board Thursday night, the school day will begin at 8:15 a.m. and conclude at 3:10 p.m. at Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove, John Hersey and Prospect high schools starting with the 2017-2018 school year.

Wheeling will have the longest day, from 8 a.m. to 3:19 p.m., and Rolling Meadows next, from 8:05 a.m. to 3:10 p.m., because those schools operate on block schedules, officials said.

Now, most schools start around 7:30 a.m. and end around 2:45 p.m.

To make the changes, the district is eliminating late starts on Thursdays, shortening class periods to 48 minutes from 50 minutes, and shortening lunch periods to 45 or 48 minutes from 50 minutes.

The decision to adjust start times comes after more than a year of planning and discussion by a district calendar committee of teachers and administrators, who took their cue from what colleagues, students and parents said during listening sessions and a community survey with more than 6,500 responses.

"I'm super happy with it," Superintendent David Schuler said of the new start times. "We engaged all our stakeholders. We reached out to parents, students and staff, and the feedback was consistent."

Schuler has said he believes the changes would ultimately create healthier and more productive students, many of whom are overtired and stressed by the demands of the high school environment.

Along with the later start times come other schedule-related changes the district plans to implement next school year:

• Co-curricular activities should be held after school, and not go for more than two hours with the exception of varsity sports.

• Varsity practices will be limited to two hours and 45 minutes each day, and the same team can't have practices both before and after school on the same day.

• After-school activities should end by 7:30 p.m., though there are exceptions, such as the week of dress rehearsals before a school play.

• Except in unique circumstances, homework won't be assigned over Homecoming weekend, Thanksgiving break, winter break, Presidents Day weekend or spring break. Teachers are limited on doing lesson planning or grading over breaks.

Schuler said the calendar committee will evaluate the effectiveness of the changes and then make tweaks where needed.

The school board has already approved changes to the calendar starting in the 2017-2018 school year, in which final exams will be held before winter break. School will start about a week earlier than usual, on Aug. 16, and graduation will be over Memorial Day weekend.

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New 2017-18 school start and dismissal times

Buffalo Grove High School 8:15 a.m.-3:10 p.m.

Elk Grove High School 8:15 a.m.-3:10 p.m.

John Hersey High School 8:15 a.m.-3:10 p.m.

Prospect High School 8:15 a.m.-3:10 p.m.

Rolling Meadows High School 8:05 a.m.-3:10 p.m.

Wheeling High School 8 a.m.-3:19 p.m.

The Academy at Forest View* 8:15 a.m.-3:10 p.m.

Newcomer Center* 8:15 a.m.-3:10 p.m.

Vanguard* 8:15 a.m.-3:10 p.m.

*District alternative schools

Source: District 214

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