Positive feedback for District 214 later start time plan

Posted5/13/2016 5:30 AM

A plan from Northwest Suburban High School District 214 officials to move toward a later start time and shorter sports practices was met with positive responses from board members Thursday night.

Under the recommendations Superintendent David Schuler presented, all District 214 high schools would start at approximately 8:20 a.m. and end around 3:10 p.m. Now, most schools start around 7:30 a.m. and end around 2:45 p.m. To eliminate any lost learning time, the district would eliminate current late starts on Thursdays, shorten class periods to 48 minutes from 50 minutes, and shorten lunch periods to 35 minutes from 50 minutes.


"Those 48 minutes are going to be stronger and more productive when we have a better-rested student body coming in ready to learn," said Jennifer Zorn-Sargent, co-chairman of the calendar committee.

None of the board members expressed problems with the plan, and several said they were happy with the way the district came to these recommendations by working with teachers, students and parents.

The calendar committee went through several listening sessions and a community survey with more than 6,500 responses.

"I'm really excited about the recommendations," Schuler said. "So far the feedback we've had has been very positive."

Other recommendations:

• Co-curricular activities should be held after school. If there is an exception, nothing should start earlier than 6:15 a.m.

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• After-school co-curricular activities could not go more than two hours with the exception of varsity sports.

• After-school varsity athletic practices would be limited to two hours and 45 minutes each day, but the same team could not hold practices both before and after school on the same day.

• After-school practices, rehearsals or meetings all need to end by 7:30 p.m. Some exceptions would be allowed, such as the week of dress rehearsals before a school play.

• Except in unique circumstances, homework would not be assigned over Homecoming weekend, Thanksgiving break, winter break, Presidents Day weekend or spring break. The staff would also limit or refrain from doing lesson planning or grading over those breaks.

Elizabeth Bennett, an orchestra teacher at Buffalo Grove High School, said she was concerned about the uneven scheduling for electives that may happen since all eight periods would not be the same length.


No parents spoke up at the meeting for or against the recommendations.

"Kids seem to get enough work as it is, so overall, I think it's good," Chris Doner, a Prospect High School parent, said later.

Later this month the board will vote on whether the administration should further pursue details on the recommendations, such as working out the transportation contracts. The earliest changes would go into effect would be the 2017-18 school year.

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