Parents wait for their kids

Parents wait for their kids at Winston Campus elementary school in Palatine. (Tracy Gruen, Special to the Tribune / February 7, 2014)

An early-release schedule started at Palatine Community Consolidated School District 15 schools went very smoothly in the first week, Superintendent Scott Thompson said.

Students are starting school five minutes earlier and ending five minutes later on Monday through Thursday and ending 50 minutes earlier on Fridays.

Even though Thompson said transportation and other factors had no bumps, some parents picking up their kids on Feb. 7 at Winston Campus elementary school in Palatine had some concerns.

"I'm not a big fan," said David West. "I think it screws up everyone's schedules."

"It was better when they didn't get out early," said Sonia Todova, as she waited for her child to leave school at 1:40 p.m. on Friday. She said she's fortunate to work from home, but knows other parents have to make changes to their schedules.

Lisa Nuss, president of the Classroom Teachers' Council, said teachers have been pushing for the professional development time since they started contract negotiations in 2012. The teachers previously recommended early-release time on Wednesday mornings, but that was opposed by some parents, and then in October, an arbitrator supported the district implementing an early release time on Friday afternoons.

"I didn't like the original plan," said Jason Latek, who was waiting outside to pick up his 7-year-old at Winston, and believes the early release on Friday afternoons is a little more convenient than Wednesday mornings.

"At least we can make use of it," said Emily Solberg, who said she was opposed to the early release on Wednesdays but can see using the time on Fridays for longer weekends.

Thompson said he visited a professional development training session on a Friday and found teachers using their iPads to take technology integration courses on digital tools to produce and publish writing and to support reading comprehension.

"It was very productive and positive," he said.

Nuss said that some people questioned why teachers couldn't meet during the summer instead of creating an early-release schedule, but she said the goal is to improve learning for the current students and therefore more effective to do it throughout the year.

Nuss said that early-release time is pretty common throughout the state, but can result in students losing significant instructional time. That is not happening in District 15, she said.

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