Peoria Public School Board moving forward with new school schedule, some members against it

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – The Peoria Public School board is officially moving forward with another three-tiered bell schedule for the 2021-2022 school year.

During Monday night’s board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat proposed an updated schedule to the school board that would have PPS students back in the classroom for 6.5 hours a day.

According to the new schedule, high school students will be in class from 7:30 a.m.-2:00 p.m., middle school students will be in class from 8:20 a.m.-2:50 p.m., and primary school students would be in class from 9:10 a.m.- 3:40 p.m.

Dr. Kherat said this updated schedule is not much different than one currently in place.

“It’s actually the same bell schedule as proposed, but this time instead of having 60 minutes or an hour gap between the tiers, there is only 50 minutes,” Dr. Kherat said. “This is the same model we operated on last year but it has an additional hour of class time.”

She said with this new model the older students would be released before the younger students which would help with child care.

She also said because this method would steal 10 minutes from the gaps between each tier, it would result in a longer school day and would be a compromise that wouldn’t have younger students and teachers in school past 4:00 p.m.

“I think it’s a very good compromise,” Dr. Kherat said. “We have to sort of put some sort of closure on this so that we can start scheduling and sharing with parents with some assurity that this is going to be their schedule.”

Doug Shaw, school board president, said he took a poll on how board members felt about this new proposal. He said four board members were supportive, two were against any three-tiered option, and one preferred a different option.

Shaw said since the board reached a consensus and because this topic was not an action item requiring a vote, they would move on with the proposal.

However, Dan Walther, board member, disagreed and said the proposal doesn’t make sense, arguing that the younger students should be released sooner. Walther said he could support it if the schedule would be flipped

“Having the young kids come in at 9:10 a.m. and go to 3:40 p.m. and having high school … the research is about 100% opposite of this and we’re not even going to vote on this,” Walther said. “I could not support this in a heartbeat.”

Board member Anni Reinking said this option still creates a list of other problems.

“We’re completely disregarding science, we’re completely disregarding that this school year is going to be different because we’re no longer working from home,” Reinking said. “And we’re completely disregarding very impassioned teachers who said ‘we are pre-k teachers and we work together’ and you’re still going to put them on way two different tiers.”

Reinking also mentioned this option would still cause young students to be at home by themselves to which Dr. Kherat mentioned there are community resources as well as early and after school care that can be utilized to help.

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