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What You Need to Know Before the Kids Go Back

District 202 is implementing a lot of changes this school year, some to save money and others to make life easier.

School for about 29,000 students enrolled in begins in just over two weeks, and already preparations are under way for the start of the new school year.

This week, schools resumed their normal business hours and new teachers are visiting their classrooms through a series of institute days.

New changes also go into effect this year. They include:

  • Students start on Aug. 18 with a full day of school, which is the first year that school begins this early. In prior years, construction of new buildings had pushed the start of school as late as possible to allow those buildings to be completed, district spokesman Tom Hernandez said. Because no schools are opening this year, the school board was allowed to change the start of school to mid-August, which allows the semester to end before winter break – a great advantage to high school students preparing for finals, Hernandez said.

“We are excited about this change, largely because it will allow high school students to finish first semester and take finals before the winter break, rather than have to come back after two weeks off, spend a week or so reviewing and then take finals,” he said. “It will also allow us to finish the year earlier, which parents have asked for.”

  • The school board will announce high school graduation dates in early fall, and assuming no snow days, school will be out for all district students May 25.
  • This school year also marks a change in school start times and bus schedules. The district was able to save about $600,000 in busing costs by adjusting school times and bus routes.

Since the new bus schedule shortens routes and eliminates some bus stops, some middle and high school students may have to walk between two-tenths and four-tenths of a mile (an increase from last year’s distance of two-tenths of a mile) to their new bus stops.

The distance elementary students have to walk to their bus stops remains about one-tenth of a mile, which is the same as last year.

Bus drivers transporting afternoon kindergarten students will contact the families on their routes shortly before school begins.

Bus routes can be found on the district’s Web site at www.psd202.org/schools/busruns.php.

  • New school start times also go into effect this fall in order to accommodate the new bus routes.

High school students will attend school from 7:05 a.m. to 2:10 p.m. Middle school students will attend school from 7:55 a.m. to 2:55 p.m. and elementary schools, except for Lakewood Falls Elementary School, will attend from 9:05 a.m. to 3:40 p.m.

Students at Lakewood Falls, because of their close proximity to Creekside Elementary School, will attend school from 8:55 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. to allow traffic to flow better through the area.

  • Also new this year is the ability for parents to pay their school fees online. The system is expected to be easier and more efficient for both parents and school officials by reducing manual data entry for secretaries and bookkeepers and reducing the number of phone calls and visits to the schools to pay fees, Hernandez said.

The new student fee payment system can be found on the district’s Web site www.psd202.org in the announcements section. The system will allow for total payments or partial payments under the monthly payment plan.

Lunch fees cannot be paid for under this new student fee payment system, but can be paid for using https://mymealtime.com/signin.aspx.

holeinone August 03, 2011 at 12:08 PM
The school board along with all involved in these decsions should be ashamed of themselves. Having students start school this early is not benificial to there learning or well being. Walking 4 tenths of a mile to get on a bus in rain, storms, snow is ridculuous. My choice is make the board do this for a week and see how well they perform in life. Oh I forgot, they all probley walked thru 3 feet of snow to school like the old story goes.
Lori Janiec August 03, 2011 at 01:40 PM
Having High School Students start so early is going to affect how they perform in class. Not to mention having High School aged children wandering around alone for 3-4 hours before parents get home from work can't be good either! This just looks to be a lose/lose situation for the kids. I understand about saving money, but I have yet to talk to another parent that likes the time change. Then, to have the youngest children get out of school at what will be nearly DUSK in the dead of winter, is shameful!
Cindy B August 03, 2011 at 02:04 PM
As the parent of a high school student I never understood the old hours. I think the new high school hours make perfect sense. It's the time I started when I was in high school & the time most other districts start. It's too hard to get home at 4pm, do homework, & have a part-time job. Elementary school kids are getting out 10 minutes later than they were. As far as walking, kids who aren't bused walk much further to school. 4 tenths of a mile is a block. Kids can't walk down the block to the bus stop. How spoiled are we?
Sheila Raddatz August 03, 2011 at 04:16 PM
Cindy, I agree with you. There should be bus stops and none of this "house to house" pick up/drop off. Its costly and it promotes inactivity. With HS kids having an early start, they will have more chances to study, work, activities, help around the house, etc. I want the HS kids tired and in bed early....it keeps them out of trouble at night while preparing them for the real world.
Jerry August 03, 2011 at 05:36 PM
Everyone wants the district to make changes to save money...until it means that their high schooler (yes, I have one) needs to drag his or her butt out of bed a little earlier or little Johnny or Susie has to walk a couple blocks to the bus. Did we miss the part where it said these changes are going to save US, the taxpayers, $600k per year? Everyone is to short sighted to see beyond the administration's so called inflated salaries to see when they actually get something right. Just remember, you are the ones who voted (or worse yet, didn't vote) for the school board that approves these salaries. The only place your voice can really make a difference is on election day. Until then, give credit where it's due.
Karen Sorensen (Editor) August 03, 2011 at 05:43 PM
As you may have noticed, I've taken down several notes in which personal attacks are being made. I want readers to talk to each other, but with respect. Everyone's entitled to an opinion; if you don't agree with it, politely disagree and state your own opinion.
Concerned Parent August 03, 2011 at 05:46 PM
The new starting times for high school students is a bad idea. There have been several studies relating to teenagers needing an average of 7 to 8 hours of sleep. If a student works, or is involved in various other activities, this simply will not be the case. For example, just because a student gets out earlier does not mean that their work hours won't still be later in the evening. Also, imagine being prepared to take a test (especially in an AP class) at 7:05 in the morning! Many sports, and other activities (including marching band) hold practices in the morning before school starts to accommodate for various levels and sports all needing to use the same facilities. For example, just try walking into the fieldhouse during late winter for a better understanding. Practices that once started at 6:00 a.m. will be held at 5:00 a.m., translating to students possibly getting up as early as 4:30 a.m. Let's not forget that the actual game times won't change, because other districts don't get out at the same time. It's not unusual for an athlete to return to their high school from these events around 9:30 to 10:00 at night, and actually getting home at 10:30. While, the number one priority is receiving a good education, it is a well known fact that colleges are looking for well rounded students who participate in extra curricular activities. Seems to me that we are punishing those students the most.
Sheila Raddatz August 03, 2011 at 05:58 PM
Concerned, you are so right on the sleep issue but thinking back to some of my pysch class, I believe that teenagers need about 10ish hours of sleep because of all the developmental changes in their bodies. Puberty is rough all around. (haha) My kids are little, so I am not encoutering this problem yet, but I am not looking forward to it.
Lori Janiec August 03, 2011 at 06:38 PM
This is something I'm hearing a lot in talking with some of the other parents. Between activities, sports, jobs, family activities, it's going to be hard on everyone! If I remember correctly, my high school day went from approx. 7:50 to 3:10 and I rode the bus! The chief complaints I hear are families who have children at multiple levels who work and now it's harder to get the younger children off to school. I guess only time will tell if this is a good change or not. People generally don't like change (myself included) but without change there is no progress. We'll just have to wait and see!
Lori Janiec August 03, 2011 at 06:40 PM
Oh Karen! You've been posting something along these lines a LOT lately! Blame the heat! It's making everyone a little crazy! ;)
Concerned Parent August 03, 2011 at 07:22 PM
I agree, it's going to be harder on everyone, and all we can do is hope for the best!
Denise Williams August 03, 2011 at 07:31 PM
Jerry, congrats, you hit the nail on the head. As for the studies showing how much sleep teenagers need, there are just as many equally well done studies showing how those original studies were faulty in their inception, implementation and conclusions.

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