Du Quoin Unit District 300 Superintendent Matt Hickam is proposing to change the district’s once-a-month early dismissal days into late start days.
Those days are called “Data Days,” and involve hour-long staff meetings that begin at 2 p.m.
The problem, Hickam said, is that kids who are involved in sports or other after-school events are forced to sit around for an hour until their coaches or teachers are out of the meeting and ready to go.
“They have an hour or hour-plus to kill, and they aren’t really supposed to be in school because there is nobody to supervise them,” Hickam said.
Hickam proposed to the school board that on Data Days, school would start an hour later, or about 9 a.m., and the staff meetings would begin at 8 a.m.
Breakfast would still be served, and the school would be open at the usual time, with staff on hand, for children whose parents have to drop them off.
Moreover, teachers will be fresher and the meetings will be more productive, he added.
The deal-breaker, however, could be students who take the bus to school. School board member Patrick Riley doesn’t like the idea of children standing at their bus stops alone, for up to an hour, after their parents have already gone to work.
Hickam and other board members don’t like that scenario, either.
Hickam said he won’t implement the change without hearing from as many parents as possible first. He said he has talked about it with the district’s calendar committee, some faculty and staff and other internal groups, and most are on board.
But parents are key, he said. He wants to reach as many as possible and that may involve email and text messages. Hickam also will use next month’s school improvement focus group meetings, which parents are encouraged to participate in.
If approved, the proposal would be implemented the 2020-21 school year.