Some District 65 parents say they plan to protest a shift in school start times this fall by withholding payment of school fees.

Pam Daniels, co-president of the Lincoln School PTA, told members of the Evanston/Skokie district school board Monday night that the 40-minute shift in start times, from 8:20 a.m. to 9 a.m., will raise costs for working parents by forcing them to pay for additional child care services.

She said the parents plan to seek fee waivers because the time shift will create a financial hardship for many parents.

She said nearly 200 parents have signed an online petition opposing the change and 88 have signed paper petitions in opposition.

The school administration told parents at Oakton, Lincoln and Lincolnwood schools about the time change in a letter sent home with students on Mary 23.

The school board earlier this month declined to override start-time change. The administration said that having matching start times at all the district’s schools would simplify the scheduling of professional training opportunities for teachers.

The student fees are $87 per student, or a maximum of $174 per family.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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10 Comments

  1. really?
    Who will be penalized by withholding fees? The kids, not the administration is my guess.

    1. Way to offset lost fees
      Well, maybe the administration should reconsider offering Honors Geometry at Haven Middle School for only 18 students at a cost of $20,000. That would probably go a long way towards offsetting fees. And the lost fees are a drop in the bucket against the additional revenue that the district will now be earning from parents who will have to pay $1,300 per child for before school care.

      Who’s hurting who here?

      If you can tell me how parents can hurt the administration and make them listen to their issues, I’d be glad to hear it.

  2. The real “hurt” of District 65’s disdain of parents
    Disdain of parents is at an all-time high. Parents must take action, including withholding fees for the increased cost that Hardy Murphy decided to shift to parents with NO parental input whatsoever.

    And the School Board members meekly whimpered that they were briefed on the change BEFORE parents were told. But apparently no one insisted on getting parents involved, even through the PTA. No big surprise with virtually every School Board member afraid to cough unless they get permission from Hardy Murphy.

    Just think about it — these misguided School Board members, led by Hardy Murphy, think that more time in a large group child care (with increased costs to families) is a GOOD THING. It’s not.

    Don’t forget — this change in bell time will put THOUSANDS of dollars in District 65’s pocket for morning child care. Think that that’s just a coincidence?

    No fellow Anonymous poster (perhaps you are a District 65 employee looking out for the dictatorial boss Dr. Murphy?), these parents who are peacefully protesting the dismal treatment of parents and families are not going to hurt children. They want to force Hardy Murphy to consider the many negative effects of his thoughtless action.

    Since he ignores parents on every level (and paints the School Board into a corner to do the same), withholding fees is another avenue to raise parental involvement as a cornerstone of our children’s education. It’s something that Hardy Murphy would do well to learn so our children would be better served by this pathetic excuse for a School District.

  3. What are the fees for? They
    What are the fees for? They aren’t for classroom supplies which the parents have to provide. Not paying the fees is a great way to start and I can’t imagine it would hurt the children. Evanston gives 86% of tax revenues to the schools – Chicago is more like 50% and we have a higher rate than most. Given that we have a decent amount of students who don’t even make use of the public schools – the withholding of fees wont hurt children – it will simply send a message. Our influence is money and ISATs. Let’s start with the money and if that doesn’t work, we can always get a case of the blue flu during ISATs. Jane Berkley

  4. Just a thought
    Could this unfortunate decision perhaps provide an opportunity to petition for an hourly child care option? It sounds as if D65 and the Superintendent Murphy certainly do need to work on involving parents in their decisions more. But in my experience, offering an alternative solution to a problem speaks louder than protest in matters of policy like this.

    1. Withholding Fees was a Last Resort
      I would certainly be pleased to see the administration consider an hourly child care option. It is certainly an excellent idea and one well worth exploring.

      However, you need to understand that this action by parents was by no means the first option considered. A group of parents from Lincoln School met with Dr. Murphy to ask him to reconsider the decision or at the very least to postpone it. Here is brief description of that meeting from one of the participants:

      “[We] met with Superintendent Dr. Murphy to make him aware of the 99% opposition parents at Lincoln feel to the change in school hours next year. We came bearing a gracious letter, a signed petition with 83 signatures, and verbatim feedback on the shift’s impact on families from your e-mails (see attachment). We approached the meeting with a respectful, level-headed hopefulness that once the administration was made aware of the negative impact on families that there would be some move to seek additional feedback from other schools, including those currently with a 9:00 start time, to determine whether there is a better way to achieve the district goal of alignment while respecting the very real needs of working families and day to day impact on children. We were not successful. Dr. Murphy stood by his decision. Most troubling was that he indicated that he felt it was his job to hear parent concerns but essentially not be swayed by them. Dr. Murphy stated that prior to his tenure, everything was done by referendum which resulted in an “everything is optional” mentality across schools and inconsistencies in curriculum implementation. He gently said that parents who want their opinions to be taken into account in decision making can go to private school and pay handsomely for that privilege.”

      In response, those parents and many more signed an online petition (ultimately generating 194 signatures) requesting that the decision be postponed until more discussion and parental input could be solicited. Many parents attended the D65 Board meeting on June 9th to present comments and ask the Board to postpone the decision for another academic year. The Board refused to postpone the decision, accepting the Administration’s claim that the change was necessary to save money on transportation and enable greater coordination with professional development for teachers. They showed very little appreciation of the hardships that both parents and students would experience because of this change, and no acknowledgment that parents should have an opportunity to have a say in school start times. “It’s an administrative matter,” one Board member stated.

      I believe that parents feel that withholding fees is a last resort in an effort to make their voices heard on issues that directly affect them, their livelihood, and their children’s well-being. Parents are not being treated as equal stakeholders in this district. I’m afraid that the time for offering reasonable alternatives is past.

      1. A missed opportunity…again
        < …. We approached the meeting with a respectful, level-headed hopefulness that once the administration was made aware of the negative impact on families that there would be some move to seek additional feedback from other schools, including those currently with a 9:00 start time, to determine whether there is a better way to achieve the district goal of alignment while respecting the very real needs of working families and day to day impact on children. …. Dr. Murphy stood by his decision. Most troubling was that he indicated that he felt it was his job to hear parent concerns but essentially not be swayed by them. Dr. Murphy stated that prior to his tenure, everything was done by referendum which resulted in an “everything is optional” mentality across schools and inconsistencies in curriculum implementation. He gently said that parents who want their opinions to be taken into account in decision making can go to private school and pay handsomely for that privilege.”>>

        Once again Murphy missed an opportunity to craft a win-win situation. He could have created good will across the entire community by creating a daily school schedule that works for many more families.

        Let’s assume a change to daily schedules had to be made, no matter what. Murphy could have taken an opportunity to change things for the better. Instead, what’s been accomplished? 100 or more kids added to twice-a-day daycare? Daily life complicated for hundreds of working families? What, exactly, has Murphy gained by doing this?

        This was not a request from a few parents for “options” or special treatment on a case-by-case basis. This was a request to consider changing the schedule for all pupils in K-5 schools.

  5. Start Times
    When Dawes School moved from 8:35 am (first bell) several years ago we received late notice in the spring. It was a hardship to figure out how to make it work both psychologically and financially. Suddenly parents who needed only after school care now needed both before and after care. While many parents now don’t even know of the earlier start time, I sympathize with the parents who are now going through what we went through.

    If the administration and school board were really interested in families, they would have intimately involved parents and not been sneaky about getting this in at the eleventh hour like they did us. If putting all the schools on the same schedule would benefit teacher training, how about putting all schools on an 8:30 ish schedule for consistency? This way more parents will be able to join their children as they start their day rather than dropping them off to a program or someone else’s home. I like the idea of hourly care. It has always seemed unfair to me for parents to have to pay for time they don’t use or need.

  6. subtle pressures to private school
    I have long suspected that it was an actual goal of the school administration to drive parents into the private school system as a method of balancing the budget. Our area private schools are bursting at the seams, and parents who cannot afford the local private schools are homeschooling in record numbers. If even half of all of these children were to begin attending a District school next year, it would bankrupt the system. The superintendent’s comment to the parents indicates that my suspicion is well founded. There is a large financial incentive for the District to ignore parents input. There are no consequences for shutting us out–the district receives your tax dollars whether you like the school or not, whether they dialogue with you or not. Driving families out of using the system makes them pay twice. There is no accountability to parents in the way the system is structured. It is completely unnecessary for them to heed family input, and in fact, it is in the best financial interest of the district to ignore parents.

    1. funding tied to enrollment
      I may be wrong but I think public schools lose money every time a student leaves or becomes part time. I think that you get state dollars on a per student basis,please correct me if I am wrong. I believe this is why the high school won’t let students take less than 6 credit hours a semester, even if they have fulfilled all requirements as they receive less money for a part time student. However, there is a growing number of part time high school students who circumvent this by becoming “home schooled” . The state code allows any student- K-12 to take just one course or one course short of a full load at any Illinois public school if you register as “home schooled”. I have met a number of ETHS students who do this, they take what they want at ETHS and then pursue other interests, either on line, at another facility or at an internship. They then graduate from a number of remote high schools who put their courses together. ( these high schools have graduates who attend everything from the most prestigious universities to local community colleges). Some of these kids take only three years to graduate, others more. The only thing they can’t do is attend ETHS graduation. These are your tax dollars and this law gives students/families the latitude to design a personalized education and offers some type of school choice with out paying for private school tuition.

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