Task force to study later start times at Barrington High

  • The Barrington Area Unit School Distict 220 board is studying the possibility of moving the start time of Barrington High School to later in the morning. First period classes at the school begin at 7:20 a.m. and district officials say their initial research suggests that may be negatively impacting students.

    The Barrington Area Unit School Distict 220 board is studying the possibility of moving the start time of Barrington High School to later in the morning. First period classes at the school begin at 7:20 a.m. and district officials say their initial research suggests that may be negatively impacting students. Daily Herald file photo

 
 
Posted1/14/2015 5:30 AM

The Barrington Area Unit School District 220 Board of Education Tuesday night decided to organize a community task force, called Input 220, to take a closer look at moving the start time at Barrington High School to later in the morning.

Currently, first period classes at the high school begin at 7:20 a.m. and district officials said their initial research suggests that may be negatively affecting students.

 

Cindy Jaskowiak, the district's assistant superintendent for technology, said the question should be put to the community because the time students wake up for school affects everything else in their day.

Jaskowiak said based on their early, rough estimates, changing the start of the school day to 8 a.m. would cost around $1.45-$1.75 million, without factoring in any reimbursement from the state. That money would add the additional 27-33 bus routes needed to pick up high school students at the same time younger students are being picked up. Currently, busses first pick up high school students from stops around the district's 72-mile area and drop them off at the high school before picking up younger children.

Along with the extra cost of adding more bus routes, other issues go along with moving the start time back, problems that Jeff Arnett, the district's assistant superintendent of innovation and outreach, said members of the community may be able to help come up with creative solutions to.

Board trustee Richard Burkhart said he supported changing start times but he felt the district might be moving too quickly, adding that they might need 24 months to study the other variables that could arise if the time were changed.

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"If we drive everybody on a 75-minute bus ride each morning, we are going to have students taking their private car and do it much faster," Burkhart said, giving one example of how he thinks the start time might snarl downtown Barrington traffic.

Board trustee Joe Ruffolo said he strongly supported forming a task force and noted the enthusiasm he has heard about the change.

"This is the first board meeting that my kid actually wanted to come to," Ruffolo said.

Ruffolo said he didn't mind the task force starting sooner rather than later because officials can always just drop the idea of changing the start time if they find it wouldn't be a benefit to the community.

The board created a similar task force, also called Input 220, when it asked residents if they would be in favor of changing the academic calendar so first semester ended before the start of winter break. Based on the community feedback the board went ahead with that plan for the 2014-2015 school year.

Arnett said the earliest administrators would consider changing the start time for the high school would be in the 2016-2017 school year.

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