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Parents Continue to Fight Against D15 Schedule Changes

At the Tuesday board of education meeting, parents spoke against proposed schedule changes and were cheered on by more than 40 people in attendance.

District 15 is still accepting surveys from parents who would like to weigh in on proposed schedule changes for the 2013-2014 school year, but the deadline is Monday, January 21. 

The changes are due to a contractual agreement between the school district and the Classroom Teachers' Council, with a goal to provide development and devoted training time for teachers.

All of the four proposals will affect either starting or ending times for the school day, the offering of school activities, and based on feedback especially from working parents, prove difficult to maneuver if they are expected to bring their children to school 40 minutes later one day a week.

A few parents spoke out about their dissatisfaction in the proposal itself at the Tuesday school board meeting, as well as how they believe the proposals weren't handled as well they could have been by the school district. 

"We as parents and taxpayers fully support teachers and administrators to increase the level of education provided for our children," said Lisa Szczupaj, a District 15 parent who has spearheaded a Change.org petition to encourage the district to look at a Friday early release, instead of Mondays or Wednedsays, as presented in the survey

"We understand teacher enrichment time has already been contracted, what we are not happy with are the days and times put in front of us," Szczupaj said.

Szczupaj in her petition on Change.org, suggests that a Friday early release should be considered. That option was not included in the four scenarios presented by District 15 administration in the survey. 

District 15 Superintendent Scott Thompson said Fridays were not an optimal time for teacher trainings to be held. 

"Friday [early release was] ruled out, teachers have exerted a lot of energy during the week, we didn’t think they would get the best use of instructional time. That’s why we didn’t put it in the survey," Thompson said. 

"We are insisting [that a Friday early release] be considered, that this time be given without lost instruction time. As parents, we know that students' focus on Friday afternoon is not optimal," Szcaupaj said.

"We are very confident adults can probably work through that. We are confident that adults are better able to focus, thus Friday afternoon training would be more optimal for students," Szczupaj said.

She went on to state that programming, tutoring, sports and other school activities important to the emotional, educational and social growth of children would be affected-if the Friday early release option was not considered.

"There is no [after school] programming on Friday, why not Friday? It is our feeling your survey does not have not an accurate reflection of what the community wants," Szczupaj said. 

She cited the more than 220 individuals who as of Tuesday, signed the petition on Change.org. As of this writing, 261 people have signed it. 

"I urge the board to set the time for Friday afternoon. You would be well served, and parental and taxpayer support will be behind you," she said.

Kathy Van Brunt, also a District 15 parent, said the district should have involved public input in the survey before it was presented.

"We are being asked to alter our life, family, and work schedules. There are better ways to accomplish this without affecting the community," Van Brunt said.

Van Brunt offered a number of reasons the four options presented in the District 15 survey don't work for many parents in the form of a punch-list: 

  • Employment issues-asking parents to adjust work schedules one day a week is, "ridiculous and impossible," Van Brunt said.
  • Families shouldn’t be expected to incur extra daycare costs.
  • Students need consistent schedules to address needs for themselves and their families, this creates unnecessary stress on the community.
  • Early start times require children to get up earlier, and that is asking too much.
  • Safety, Van Brunt said, it is not optimal to be waiting at bus stops when it’s not light out.
  • Child care options, also cited by Van Brunt, offere more choices after school than before.

Van Brunt also presented a solution for the board of education to consider. 

"Keep the early start time [survey option], and the school day can be extended by ten minutes. On Fridays, children can be released 40 minutes early, and teachers will still be finished at 2:25 p.m., the same time their day ends right now," Van Brunt said. 

This pays credence to child development, economic and social affects this proposal threatens, Van Brunt said.

"The overall theme in all of this is that the administration created a survey angled toward teacher needs, and not student needs," she said. 

Jim Garwood, deputy superintendent for District 15 said that if a 40 minute early start option is implemented, a supervised setting would be offered for children whose parents must be at work. 

"We envision it would be offered for a nominal fee," Garwood said. 

Garwood said there would be no possiblity, however, of busing students who would need to arrive to school early, if a late start schedule were implemented to provide for teacher training time. 

The board of education has scheduled a communication forum on the subject for Saturday, January 26 from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. at Walter Sundling Jr. High School, 1100 N. Smith Street. 

Cindy January 19, 2013 at 01:37 AM
Early release on Friday would be less productive for teachers. I prefer early release to late start, but can be happy with another day of the week than Friday.
STIY January 19, 2013 at 02:28 AM
I'm a D15 Parent. In my opinion, the issue is not the teachers having to sit through training on Friday afternoon. The issue is waiting until Monday to use the training. If the professional development is done well, it should be energizing and motivating our teachers to implement what they are learning. Training, energizing, and motivating any employee at 2:30 on a Friday seems to be wasted energy. However, being energized and motivated on a Monday or Wednesday has the potential to see immediate results. I think it is fair to say that there are few working adults who WANT to sit in any meeting regardless of the day it falls on. For myself, if I have to sit in a meeting, I want it to be something I can actually use. As stated in a previous post, we all have responsibilities and obligations waiting for us at home. And in my house the weekends are the worst. There are days when trying to remember if I put clothes in the dryer is too hard. Remembering what I did Friday can seem almost impossible. Changing the school hours is going to impact everyone. It's going to change daycare needs and wake up or busing times. So I want to get the most out of it. I believe my children will see that in the classroom if the teachers have the opportunity to implement what they are learning right away.
Bucephalus January 19, 2013 at 04:54 AM
Catherine, did your Fortune 500 company have mandates from the state or feds about how much training you had? I also find it amusing that in one breath you say the teachers are great but then immediately imply that they're lazy and can't handle 30-40 minutes of training.
F.L. January 19, 2013 at 05:23 AM
STIY. I agree. I am not seeing the difference between Friday afternoon and Monday morning in terms of childcare. For me it is the same thing, either way. It is a personal choice do you want the time in the beginning of the week or the end? Many parents like the early release on Friday so that it frees up that afternoon. However I have talked to many that like the later start on Monday because it is an easier transition into the week (especially if you travel on the weekend). If you need AM supervision I am sure the CARE Program or some other organization will pop up. I think Monday morning is fine. The kids schedule does not get interrupted and it is the beginning of the week. If the kids starting earlier is the big issue, then shift the entire day 10-15 later. No doubt it will be an inconvenience at first but in the end we will all adjust. Many districts are doing the same or have done so for the past 10 years, and it has not been a big problem.
Scott January 19, 2013 at 02:18 PM
F.L. - I think you are overly optimistic on the availability of morning child care. From what I've heard the CARE program has waiting lists. And what day care center is going to take on new customers who only want to pay for one hour one day a week? I would think many of them would need to add to their staffs (per DCFS guidelines), and who wanst to do that for customers paying for only one hour?
Kathy O. January 19, 2013 at 03:06 PM
FL and STIY, seems to me you two are plants from the union and not uninterested parties. We know how D15 works. I disagree that teachers will imPlement ideas immediately. I also discount your claim that they will lose anything from training over the weekend. Weak arguments! In fact, it will give the teachers time to think about and review how they will implement all the fabulous skills and ideas they will obtain in the 40 minute training modules and start fresh bright and early in Monday morning! The Monday mornings there are no holidays that is! What a joke!
Bucephalus January 19, 2013 at 03:10 PM
Kathy, I asked james urban this and he never responded so I'll ask you this as well. Is there a way to disagree with you and not be a "union plant." It's very easy for you to say that everybody dislikes this plan, or any of the ideas, when you say that everybody who disagrees with you is a "union plant."
Kathy O. January 19, 2013 at 03:10 PM
Also, not all filies can afford weekend holidays and would,therefore, prefer late start Mondays. Most parents need to work, be at work at regularly scheduled times, and cannot find/afford before school care! Elitist arguments that illustrate you do not understand the issues at hand.
Sub-Bus January 19, 2013 at 03:30 PM
f.L. How will Mondays work? during the school year we have some Mondays off of school, Martin Luther king, Presidents' Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day and Columbus Day. How will this affect the late starts on Monday's? How would that be made up? I think there minds are just set on the Wednesdays!! They just want to try to be nice and give the parents an option, since we are the taxpayers, they do not care about us and our say!! Just keep fighting!! Fridays are the best option here I think:))
listenup January 19, 2013 at 06:15 PM
Lisa's article sated that the schools will have a morning program available for a nominal fee. It seems that most of the complaints come for the 7:55 starts. What about the parents at the late start schools? Their kids always start at 8:50, later than the new proposal. THey have had to make adjustments once their kids started school and with no petitions. They have never cried, "i work downtown",or "it's too late". Our home values are directly tied to how good our school district is and we do not want ours to decline!
F.L. January 19, 2013 at 06:59 PM
Bucephalus thank you! Kathy O your response is exactly the reason I usually don't comment on things. If someone differs in opinion the accusations fly instead of actually discussing the issue. My point was Monday morning is attached to the weekend so the scheduling should not be an issue. Why would Friday early pick up be any harder or easier than Monday morning. If my memory serves me correctly the district use to have 3 different start times. And some of those use to rotate, some schools changed start times every 3-4 years. Why was that not an issue? My point is I think this is making a mountain over a mole hill. Is it inconvenient? Yes. Is it a massive disruption to my ability to get my kids to school and me off to work? No. Listeup made a good point what if your school moved start time to 8:50? and a late start school to 7:55? How would you manage? Would you have to move? Sub-Bus - From what I understand if the Monday is a holiday there is no making up of any late start. I could be wrong about that. I await the accusations of being a union stooge, plant, spy, etc. or we can actually talk about resolving this issue. I think Monday AM is the compromise, it is attached to the weekend and it still gives the schedule change that is needed. Both parties are not getting exactly what they want.
Catherine January 19, 2013 at 09:25 PM
Bucephalus, I NEVER implied the teachers are lazy. I know exactly what they do. I am a room mother, volunteer in the classroom, plan class parties, and attend field trips for my child's class. It was the superintedent that said: "District 15 Superintendent Scott Thompson said Fridays were not an optimal time for teacher trainings to be held. "Friday [early release was] ruled out, teachers have exerted a lot of energy during the week, we didn’t think they would get the best use of instructional time. That’s why we didn’t put it in the survey," Thompson said. " And yes, training was required for ISO certification.
Bucephalus January 19, 2013 at 10:20 PM
I wasn't aware that ISO certification was a legal mandate by state and federal law.
Shawn Jackson January 19, 2013 at 11:38 PM
Shouldn't it be us as the tax payers that decide how this is to instituted. I believe that if this is truly for the enrichment of the teachers that this should be done on their time. Keep them late on a Friday or heaven forbid have them come in on a Saturday. The unions have truly skewed this as to be a teachers right, last time i checked we pay them.
Scott January 20, 2013 at 03:21 AM
How is Monday attached to the weekend?
D B L D January 20, 2013 at 10:39 PM
I have been trying to follow this and think I have the facts correct. The teachers day will remain the same hours (Jr. High arrive 7:40-end 2:25) class start will change from 7:55 to 7:45 and the students will arrive at 7:30 instead of 7:40 and be unsupervised for 15 minutes. The question is when should the teachers have time to meet! The teachers schedule is not changing. An early dismisal or late start just means the teachers are meeting instead of teaching during that time period. Isn't the more important question WHAT IS IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE PARENTS AND STUDENTS? What will work best for those being affected?
Mark January 20, 2013 at 11:28 PM
Thanks Lisa! I totally agree that Friday early release is the best option for the kids and for parents. I signed your petition and so will other family in the district.
peter January 21, 2013 at 09:46 PM
parents shouldn't have to fight with their school district. parents should be the school district. many of the problems i see that exist between the board and the community are because ex teachers and ex administrators run for and are elected to seats on the board. while it seems on the surface that such people know about education, in truth it upsets the intended structure of the school board. teachers and administrators think like teachers and administrators. they are much less likely to represent the interests of parents in the community than actual parents in the community.
M January 21, 2013 at 10:40 PM
I don't think our teachers get the recognition they deserve and I'm shocked at the lack of support being given to better our teachers and our schools. We've lived out of state where the teachers were given one Monday a month to educate themselves and the district scores we're some of the highest scores in the country. It sounds to me that parents aren't looking out for the best interests of their kids but looking at the interests of themselves. My kids were delighted when I told them of the new schedule.
Scott January 21, 2013 at 10:46 PM
M. - I would guess you have a stay at home parent.
Bucephalus January 22, 2013 at 12:23 AM
peter, there have been numerous accusations of that very sort leveled by jamesurban in previous discussions of District 15. I have pointed out to him each time that the current board of District 15 has one educator one it (Richard Bokor) and six non-educators. http://www.ccsd15.net/pages/CCSD15/Board_of_Education_Group/Meet_Your_Board_of_Education You can complain about the Board of Education and their decisions for many reasons, but complaining that the D15 board is made up of teachers and administrators is simply a lie.
Bucephalus January 22, 2013 at 12:23 AM
Does that make his/her comments any less valid?
Scott January 22, 2013 at 02:15 AM
Not less valid - but it's hard to argue that the change is OK if the change has no negative impact on you. If the district decides to charge tuition for band/orchestra/ESL classes/[insert something that doesn't affect you here] would it be OK for me to argue that it's good based on it *not* affecting me?
Bucephalus January 22, 2013 at 05:33 AM
For starters Scott, you have no evidence that "M" is a stay at home parent or has one in the family. Your entire assumption that he/she is or has one is based on the fact that "M" disagrees with you. Secondly, you're using that assumption as an accusation to undercut "M"'s argument. You don't know that these changes have "no negative impact." You don't know that these changes have no impact either way. But you are claiming that since you are assuming that "M" is a stay at home parent, or knows one. It doesn't matter if "M" isn't affected or that I don't have a child. I am supporting what I believe is in the best interests of the schools so that when I have a child, or children, in the district, the schools and teachers are at their best. It's that sort of thinking that is a problem in all manners. "I don't have children so my property taxes should be lower." "I don't drive a car so I shouldn't pay for roads." "I have a child so my beliefs should carry more weight." None of those are arguments based on the merits of the issue. They are all based on perceived self-interest. M believes this to be a better change for the schools and teachers now. I believe it to be better change for the schools and teachers down the road. Our employment and children status are irrelevant to the issue. Discussing those instead of the pros and cons doesn't illuminate the better choice.
Mae January 22, 2013 at 06:50 AM
Amen! Especially since I know for a fact there are many people looking for teaching positions and if they were told this was a condition of getting the job they would say sure, absolutely. I loved how it was pointed out in the meeting most people work 8-5 and 9-5 Monday and Friday. Saying that the teachers are tired on Friday is ridiculous. We should no disrupt the teaching time of the children. Children are less focused on Friday than the rest of the week because they are ready to go home and play. Apparently so are the teachers, that is why they don't want to stay. Again, they are the adults. They can still be out of school between 3:30 and 4:30 depending on the school.
Mae January 22, 2013 at 07:09 AM
Neither early release or late arrival work for me because I have kids at 2 different schools with different start times. I work 2 part time jobs, 6 days per week. I work 9-2 Monday, Wednesday, Friday. I already had to cut my hours back by 1 hour and lose pay for those days when my one child started Junior High because they no longer offer free bus from my house to the school (yes they used to). I can't afford the $400 per year to pay for the bus so I have to leave early for pick up. It is too dangerous for a girl to walk that distance and route by herself. I can't afford daycare (nor are there daycare facilities that provide a rate of 1 hour per week before school and drop them off.) Most schools do early release. My spouse is a teacher and that is what they do and he still get's home late those days. These are grown ups we are talking about. They can handle it. In this economy they should be grateful to have a job and do what is necessary. I want to be able to keep my day job.
Lila Gibson January 22, 2013 at 01:32 PM
Clearly from these and all the previous comments posted on other articles, the overall consensus is that a Friday afternoon early release works best for families. I think it's a lame argument that whatever training the teachers would get on a Friday has to be immediately implemented or else they will forget it, which was in a previous article. If they can't remember something they learned a couple of days ago to teach it on the following Monday, perhaps they shouldn't be teaching in the first place. And the argument about the teachers being too tired on a Friday afternoon is equally as lame. Welcome to the working world where our days actually go past 5pm sometimes and they are complaining about getting out at 3? Please, I think majority of people with regular jobs would kill for one that lets them out at 3 on a Friday!!
peter January 22, 2013 at 03:42 PM
bucephalus you are right, one seventh is hardly a majority, and need not even be a concern, unless of course, there were to be a 4 to 3 decision. my point however, is that when a school board is made up of a representative sample of the community, there should not be a clear disconnect between the two.
Maryb January 22, 2013 at 05:04 PM
D15 voters please remember that Ekeberg and Boker (lost his first try) in 2007 were heavily funded by employee PACs. Boker and Babcock then teamed together in 2009 and won. In 2011 Ekeberg lost his reelection bid because many in the committee did not agree with his decisions while on the board (2007 – 2011) and because he had been funded by employee PACs. Ekeberg, Bokor and Babcock appointed Seiffert to the vacated position in 2011.
Linda Trost February 02, 2013 at 01:28 AM
Absolutely, Sub-Bus! It all boils down to money in the end.

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