District 214, feeder districts discuss changing school calendar, start times

District 214, feeder districts start the discussion, which includes school start times

 
 
Posted9/16/2015 6:15 AM
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  • ELL coordinator Shelia Heck, center, gives a tour during first day of classes at Prospect High School in Mt. Prospect in 2005. District 214 and its feeder districts are starting to debate changing the start of the school calendar and class starting times.

    ELL coordinator Shelia Heck, center, gives a tour during first day of classes at Prospect High School in Mt. Prospect in 2005. District 214 and its feeder districts are starting to debate changing the start of the school calendar and class starting times. Daily Herald File Photo

Should Northwest suburban schools start later in the morning? Should the high school students take finals before winter break? Should districts consider a year-round school calendar?

Those ideas and more were the subject of a joint school board meeting between Northwest Suburban High School District 214 and six of its elementary feeder districts on Tuesday where Superintendent David Schuler said everything is on the table toward creating the best school schedule for students.

"We want to see if we can figure out if there is a better model to meet the needs of our children and if there is, should we consider it," Schuler said.

In recent years, several suburban districts have moved final exams to before winter break to provide a more even split to the two semesters and get students ready for what they will experience in college.

Making that change might mean moving the start of school earlier by a few weeks, a change District 214 officials said they wouldn't want to make without consulting with the feeder districts.

"We don't want to be in a position where we tie the hands of any other board," Schuler said.

Changing school start times is also something Schuler said he wants the group to discuss after recent medical surveys have shown that students are not getting enough sleep. But sports and extracurricular practices would come into that discussion.

Dane Delli, superintendent for River Trails Elementary District 26, led the group in an exercise to write down their hopes and fears about the idea of having a year-round school calendar.

"It's a topic that is almost taboo in some ways, but we thought this would be a good launching pad for the conversation," Delli said.

School officials agreed it would be a "radical" change.

"But it's always good to consider new ideas," said David Page, school board president for Arlington Heights Elementary District 25.

The conversation about school calendars and start times is one that will continue throughout the rest of this school year, Schuler said, and will involve a lot of community feedback before any decisions are made.

In October, District 214 will be sending out a survey to students, staffers, parents and community members. It will also host listening sessions during the day and at night, and take suggestions from parent and student groups as well as a staff committee, Schuler said.

"Ultimately we share the same goal, and that's preparing kids to be successful at life," said Community Consolidated Elementary District 59 Superintendent Art Fessler.

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