[VIDEO] A plan by Evanston/Skokie District 65 school officials to change the start times for the district’s schools next year ran into opposition from parents at this week’s school board meeting.

The board considered two proposals for changes to the school day and parents testifying at the hearing split about the merits of each option.

The discussion of changes was prompted by the agreement in teacher contract talks to add 10 minutes to the school day for elementary students and 20 minutes of instruction at the middle school level.

Matching the new start and end times so that school buses could make two runs to different schools to save costs complicated the scheduling debate, as did research that suggests middle school students, because of their sleep patterns, benefit academically from a later start to the school day.

Currently middle school students start at 8:05 a.m. while elementary schools open at 9 a.m. Magnet schools start at 8 or 8:05 a.m.

By the end of the meeting most board members appeared to have concluded that the start times for elementary and magnet schools should be kept the same — to minimize schedule disruptions for parents.

But the board seemed to favor shifting the start time for middle schools to 8:30 a.m. — to capture some of the claimed academic benefit of a later start.

District administrators promised to take another look at the options in time for the board to take a vote on the issue at its next meeting, on Monday, March 16.

Meeting video courtesy of the Evanston Community Media Center.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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