PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — No modified calendar will be in place for District 150 students just yet after the school board voted to table the discussion.
The modified calendar would have begun in Fall 2022. Changes would include an earlier start date, a 10-day fall and spring break, and a summer break that will be shorter by 12 days.
The motion was tabled due to the board wanting to guarantee a two-tiered bell schedule would be adopted for fall. Currently, the district is on a three-tiered bell schedule, which many parents are in opposition to.
The two-tiered bell schedule means the district only has two start times and two end times. The three-tiered system means the high schools start at one time, junior high another, and elementary school buildings start at a third.
However, before the action was taken, Superintendent Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat explained how the modified schedule would work.
Parents brought up concerns over where to place their kids for the extra week they have off school during the new extended breaks, she said. The district would allow for students to come in for one week, so parents would only have to find a place for their student for one week instead of two.
The Harrison Learning Center, a school in the 150 district, piloted the modified calendar program for the 2021-22 school year, and the board found it brought favorable results.
Kherat said the calendar worked well for the school and allowed for staff to implement a plethora of new activities and opportunities for students.
The purpose of the modified calendar, she said, was to improve the social and emotional health of students to help them reduce stress induced by being in the classroom.
“We want to continue to be aggressive in seeking ways to support our students and staff,” she said.
Before the meeting, parents protested the modified calendar outside the building, saying they did not feel there was enough evidence to support the need for the change. Nearly everyone who spoke during the meeting as well urged the board to vote ‘no.’
A petition signed by more than 600 students, parents, and staff associated with District 150 was presented to the board. All signers were in opposition to the modified school calendar because they did not feel it would add to the education of students.
However, Kherat argued the gains with the modified calendar would be increased staff retention, significantly improved student behavior, and a reduction of the “summer slide,” or learning loss students face from having a long summer break in between school years.
“Really, we’re going for the social-emotional piece,” she said, emphasizing the breaks would allow for students to have time away from school to relax.
A number of supportive emails came in, she said, and based on surveys, more than 50% of teachers were in support of the modified calendar.
“If we want different results in this district, we have to have time to pilot and do things differently,” she said.
The board will have the opportunity to re-vote on the measure at the next meeting.