Would 10-minute-later Barrington High start time hurt Dist. 220?

 
 
Posted4/6/2016 5:30 AM
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  • Barrington Area Unit School District 220 School Board member Joe Ruffolo (right) speaks during a discussion on start times for Barrington High during the board's meeting Tuesday night at the Early Learning Center.

      Barrington Area Unit School District 220 School Board member Joe Ruffolo (right) speaks during a discussion on start times for Barrington High during the board's meeting Tuesday night at the Early Learning Center. Doug T. Graham | Staff Photographer

Ten minutes may not seem long, but if Barrington High students started that much later, school officials fear it will affect the school day for the middle and elementary schools across Barrington Area Unit School District 220, as well as traffic throughout the 72-square-mile district.

At their meeting Tuesday night, the board of education asked district staff members to investigate what the implications would be if the school day at Barrington High School could begin at 7:30 a.m. instead of 7:20 a.m.

The board's request comes after their decision last month to put off any significant changes to district start times that would reduce the negative health risks from sleep deprivation until the 2017-2018 school year.

The district staff will try to assess whether school bus drivers would still have enough time to pick up middle and elementary schoolers after dropping high school students off 10 minutes later than usual. They will also try to determine whether that 10-minute change will be significantly slowed by the usual morning traffic.

"If you change traffic patterns, it has a ripple effect in the village," Superintendent Brian Harris said during the board's discussion. "Even 10 minutes can make that change."

Altering bus routes was also at the center of the other big decision made by the school board Tuesday night. The board members decided to give themselves until Nov. 1, instead of Oct. 1, to come to a final decision on what, if any, significant start time changes they will implement for the 2017-2018 school year and beyond.

Board President Brian Battle said the district will receive a significant upgrade in their school bus routing software Sept. 1 that will allow them to better test different start time options.

"We wanted to give ourselves time to use the software to vet the options before we presented it to the public, and that was going to make the Oct. 1 target seem too tight," Battle said. "The thing you're trying to do is compress time. You're trying to be efficient with your busing. It became really clear that to do that the right way is going to take too long with the software we have now."

The board will likely come to a decision on whether the school day at Barrington High will begin at 7:20 or 7:30 a.m. at their next board meeting at 7 p.m. April 19 at the Early Learning Center.

220: Later start time could have 'ripple effect' on traffic

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