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D. 202 Board hears about 8-period HS day, later school start

District 202 administrators presented information about the possibility of adding an 8th period to the high school day, and implementing a later high school start time to the Board of Education at its January 28, 2019 regular meeting,

The 2011 Five Year Strategic Plan prioritized restoring an 8th period to the high school day to increase flexibility and allow students more opportunity to take advanced courses and electives.

District 202 had an 8-period high school day in the early 1990s, but the 8th period was cut to save money. Seventy-one percent of neighboring districts have 8-period high school days, said Dr. Glenn Wood, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

An 8th period could be added by shortening the current 56-minute high school class period to 48 minutes, Wood said.

One more high school period would allow students to take one more elective, which could allow the district to require up to four more credits for graduation. District 202 currently requires 21 credits to graduate, while most Illinois colleges and universities require at least 19 credits to enroll.

But adding another period, Wood said, would not necessarily improve academic achievement. District 202 students’ SAT college entrance exam scores already exceed state averages.

However, adding another high school period would also create possible contractual, staffing and financial challenges, Wood said. Adding an 8th period would cost about $3.7 million a year for about 60 full-time equivalent teaching positions, he said.

Additionally, the Board of Education also recently asked for more information about possibly starting the high school day later reflecting studies showing that teens may benefit from more sleep.

Starting the high school day later would require switching back to a two-tier transportation system. District 202 implemented the current triple-tier model in 2011 during the Great Recession to save more than $1 million a year.

District administration identified two options:

  • Staggering high school start times would require adding 44 more regular education buses and cost about $2 million more per year.
  • Starting high schools and middle schools at the same time would require 97 more buses and cost nearly $5 million more a year.

Special education transportation costs would also increase by $600,000 to $750,000.

Plus, First Student, District 202’s regular education provider would be hard pressed to recruit and retain additional drivers because they’d have fewer routes and less hours. As well, First Student would have to buy more buses and would likely pass those costs along to District 202.

District 202 administrators also presented information earlier this month about options for possibly expanding its limited full-day kindergarten pilot for all eligible students.

No action was taken on any of the items discussed. Study and discussion will continue.