Updated at 8:53 p.m.
District 181's administration has dropped the idea of incorporating eight late starts into next school year's calendar after a survey on the topic revealed a lack of community support.
“We had a survey and we listened,” Superintendent Renée Schuster said at Monday night’s school board meeting.
District 181 administration maintains that additional collaborative time is necessary as the district's new Advanced Learning Plan and the federal Common Core curriculum are implemented, so an alternative plan to carve out that time was proposed by Schuster Monday.
The new plan would address teacher collaboration more during in-day common plan time, when entire grade-levels of students are at gym, art and music classes, as well as during the regularly scheduled after-school faculty meetings.
There would also be eight meetings during the year where teachers who teach the same subjects across the district will come together to collaborate, and approximately one "team meeting" each month where teachers meet with differentation specialists, MRC directors, and other staff members.
According to a report by District 181 communications director Bridget McGuiggan, 785 people responded to the district survey on late starts that was available online from April 15 to May 3.
While 70.6 percent of respondents supported setting aside time for teacher collaboration, 69.9 percent of them did not support the late starts.
Fewer than 28 percent supported the late starts, while 2.3 percent said they had no opinion.
Respondents who were not supportive of late starts were given the opportunity to explain their reasoning.
"Instruction time for students should not decrease," one respondent wrote, while another cited the "Hardship for two working parents" late starts would cause.
Many of the comments dealt with those two issues.
An online petition against late starts had accumulated 658 signatures as of Monday morning.
Board members last discussed late starts in April, when several board members expressed less-than-enthusiastic feelings about the idea.
Board President Marty Turek commended the administration for its alternative plan.
“I appreciate you listening to the taxpayers because schools are their asset,” Turek said.
The board will vote on the final 2013-14 calendar, without the eight late starts, at its May 27 meeting.
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