DARE Program Elimination to Happen Over Course of School Year
A timetable presented at Monday night's Clarendon Hills Village Board meeting schedules implementation of a modified SELAS program for March, after periods of curriculum development and staff training.
The departure of the DARE program from Clarendon Hills schools will take place over a number of months and feature a curriculum-development period involving members of the Clarendon Hills community, according to a plan recommended by District 181 and supported by the village.
Under the plan, which was presented at Monday night’s Clarendon Hills Village Board meeting, the district’s new Social Emotional Learning for Academic Success (SELAS) program meant to incorporate concepts taught by the outgoing DARE program wouldn’t be implemented until March 2013.
This September, the timetable reads, a group of community stakeholders would be assembled and include village officials, district staff, district parents, and SELAS Committee members. During October and November, a new curriculum merging the DARE concepts into the SELAS program would be developed and presented to the Clarendon Hills Village Board and District 181 Board of Education.
Staff at Walker School, Prospect School, and Clarendon Hills Middle School would be trained on the new curriculum from December 2012 through February 2013, and the program would be implemented in March 2013. The new program would aim to include 40 hours of total classroom time per year for current DARE Officer Rick Talerico.
As is tradition with the DARE program, a commencement ceremony will be held in June for students who complete the program successfully.
During the transition year in 2012-13, Talerico will be made available for more than the 40 hours the new program will aim for. The Clarendon Hills Police Department does, however, plan to insert him into its regular patrol rotation immediately.
The need for change comes from the police department's minimal crew of officers and its inability to allow Talerico to dedicate all of his hours away from patrol.
District 181 Superintendent Renée Schuster was present at Monday night’s Village Board meeting along with board member Marty Turek. She said she understands the tough financial spot the village is in and is OK with making the transition away from DARE.
"Sometimes in those difficult times we have opportunities to try something new that may actually be better," Schuster said.
To successfully make the change, she said, the whole community will have to come together.
“It really takes every single one of us to keep our kids away from drugs and alcohol,” Schuster said. “We are going to work very collaboratively in this partnership to make sure our students still have the lesson that they need.”
At the board's Aug. 6 meeting, District 181 parents filled the boardroom and expressed concern about the village's 40-hour limit. Police Chief Ted Jenkins said Monday he's willing to be flexible.
"[Forty hours] is the number we started with because we had to start somewhere," Jenkins said. "I don’t know where the final number is going to be. It’s going to be whatever it takes to have a program that makes everybody happy."
The 40-hours estimate is only related to time Clarendon Hills officers will spend in the classroom talking about those things previously covered by DARE. It will not include non-DARE projects, such as the Bike Rodeo and other public safety lessons.