Decision still pending on District 128 start times

Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128 officials haven't yet decided if the school day should start a little later beginning next year.

In December, a task force of staffers, students and parents recommended an 8:45 a.m. start time at Libertyville High School and Vernon Hills High. Classes would end at 3:25 p.m. each day at both schools. The proposed change would hypothetically allow teens to get more sleep each night.

This year, Libertyville High classes begin at 7:30 a.m. and wrap up at 2:50 p.m. At Vernon Hills High, the school day starts at 7:55 a.m. and ends at 3:15 p.m.

The task force also proposed shortening class periods to 45 minutes each, from 50 minutes.

But before a new schedule can be implemented, the various elements of the plan need to be approved as part of a new labor contract with teachers. The current contract expires in June, and a new deal hasn't yet been reached.

If the administration and teachers union reach agreement on changes to the daily schedule, those changes will become part of the overall labor agreement, Superintendent Prentiss Lea said during Monday's school board meeting.

"That conversation is continuing," Lea said. "The union is a full partner in that conversation."

Some health authorities - including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - advocate starting middle school and high school classes no earlier than 8:30 a.m. to ensure students get enough sleep.

School districts that have pushed start times later have seen an improvement in student performance, experts have said. More sleep can also lead to better teen mental health and behavior.

Several suburban schools have heeded that research and delayed daily start times in recent years, including Stevenson High and Barrington High and the various Northwest Suburban High School District 214 campuses. Some middle schools have shifted to a later start, too.

Stevenson High classes to begin 25 minutes later so students can sleep more

Will District 128 students start their days later next year?

Later starts recommended for Libertyville, Vernon Hills high schools

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