For District 128 students, school day to start later beginning this fall

 
 
Updated 5/29/2018 6:42 PM
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  • Rita Fischer, the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128, talked to the school board in December 2017 about a recommendation to delay daily start times. Officials have tentatively approved such a change for the 2018-19 term.

    Rita Fischer, the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128, talked to the school board in December 2017 about a recommendation to delay daily start times. Officials have tentatively approved such a change for the 2018-19 term. Courtesy of District 128

Students at Libertyville High School and Vernon Hills High will start classes later each day starting this fall, under a tentatively approved pact between District 128 administrators and teachers.

The two schools will join Stevenson High in Lincolnshire, Barrington High and the various Northwest Suburban High School District 214 campuses among those that have pushed daily start times later to give students more time to sleep.

Classes at the two District 128 schools will begin at 8:45 a.m. and end at 3:25 p.m., with some voluntary programs starting as early as 7:50 a.m., officials announced Tuesday. That was the recommendation from a task force of staffers, students and parents that studied a possible change last year.

During the recently completed 2017-18 term, Libertyville High classes began at 7:30 a.m. and wrapped up at 2:50 p.m. At Vernon Hills High, the school day started at 7:55 a.m. and ended at 3:15 p.m.

The average duration of class periods is being trimmed by three minutes to 45 minutes each.

"That was an important part of the task force's discussion from the beginning -- how to adjust the schedule with the least impact on instructional time," District 128 spokeswoman Mary Todoric said.

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 improved student performance, experts have said. More sleep can also lead to better teen mental health and behavior.

Before a new schedule could be implemented in District 128, the various elements of the plan needed to be approved as part of a new labor contract with the teachers' labor union. The current contract expires in June.

After seven months of negotiations, the two sides reached a tentative, one-year agreement May 25, Todoric said.

Teachers will vote on the proposal in August, and the school board will consider it afterward.

Under the proposal, teachers will receive scheduled pay raises based on experience but, unlike in recent years, they won't receive additional salary bumps. The average increase will be 3.3 percent, officials said.

"The board and union worked diligently and collaboratively throughout negotiations to reach a tenable agreement (that) was fair to teachers and taxpayers," school board President Pat Groody said in a news release.

Contract negotiations will resume this fall.

Teachers union President Brian Voss said the deal "provides certitude for students, teachers, and the community" ahead of the next school year.

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