Shorter Elementary Day, Schedules
Shorter Elementary Day, School Schedules
District 303 Families,
I’m writing to provide details about pending changes to the length of the elementary school day and start and end times for all schools beginning with the 2024-2025 school year.
The shorter elementary day was approved this summer as part of the new contract with the St. Charles Education Association (SCEA). While there was notice of this change, we recognize it came at a busy time and amid other important messaging on District initiatives. We wanted to provide you with more details on why this decision was made and what it means not only for our elementary schools, but for our middle and high schools moving forward. Please see the information below or watch our video to learn more.
Why was this decision made?
At the request of the Board and supported by District Administration, we have been focused on reducing expenses and balancing the budget to support the long-term financial stability of District 303. The Education Fund, which includes academic costs and employee salaries, is one of eight funds that make up the District’s budget. Last year, the Education Fund had a budgeted deficit of $1.8 million. This was caused in part by the time increase to the elementary day implemented in the 2021-2022 school year.
The shorter elementary day also supports the implementation of the District’s strategic priorities. Specifically, we can expand teacher development opportunities through Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), which is group learning in specific subject areas. PLCs help to build collective efficacy with teachers and elevate student learning throughout our schools.
What is changing/staying the same for elementary?
Day Length: Will be reduced to 6 hours and 20 minutes from 7 hours.
Course Specials: Students will have 7 specials, rather than 10 per week. Each specials course will remain 40 minutes. Students will engage weekly in these courses:
3 physical education/wellness
2 focused on elementary science standards
- School Start/End Times: Will be adjusted and shared prior to winter break.
Core Curricular Instruction Times: Will remain the same for literacy, math, science, and social studies.
Elementary Early Release: Will remain once per month.
Lunch and Recess Times: Will remain the same length.
Will elementary students continue to have Empower?
Empower will not continue in its current form. Rather, it will evolve to help students experience integrated learning that blends science, technology, engineering, and math through the Project Lead the Way (PLTW) program. This course special will emphasize hands-on learning in grade-level science standards, helping students develop and apply in-demand and transportable skills.
How are you supporting impacted elementary families?
We understand that the shorter elementary day could impact childcare needs. To accommodate schedule changes, we’re working with our community partners to identify sufficient childcare access and minimize the impact to working families.
Will this impact start/end times at EC, middle and high schools?
Yes. Given the transportation logistics within our large District, changes to the elementary day will impact when our early childhood, middle and high schools start and end their days. Early release days will still take place. Administration is working with the Transportation Department and school leaders to set school start and end times and hopes to announce them prior to winter break.
New Schedules Released in December
More details will be shared along with the release of the final schedules prior to winter break. We recognize these schedules will impact families to varying degrees. This, along with our pending boundary changes, are no doubt significant initiatives for our District. As always, we aim to provide you with thorough communication early and often on our key initiatives, and welcome your feedback.
Dr. Paul Gordon