Saturday, June 21, 2008

Wacky Wednesday's: Pure Rompin Stompin Fun!

When CJ Summers can take a week off, and still post more than I do, I know its time to update my blog.

Well as you know, the D150 School Board voted last Monday night to adopt Superintendent Hinton's new revised, bigger and better super duper plus plan. This new revised super duper plan was completely Mr. Hinton's idea because at some point after the vote of May 5th he experienced a light bulb moment and realized he should be sensitive to the needs of parents needing babysitters. THIS HAS NUTHIN TO DO WITH EDUCASHION.

The new plan shortens only Wednesdays, by 90 minutes. If this plan stands (and I have serious doubts it can), children will be dismissed every Wednesday at 1:45.

So if you count on your fingers starting at 9:45, 10:45, 11:45 - you will count a total of FIVE total hours in school for primary school children on Wednesdays.

Now, readers, if you did your homework, read, studied and assimilated the ideas in my blog, you would know that the minimal requirement for clock hours of INSTRUCTIONAL time (excluding lunches, recess, passing times) in Illinois for any class day, with few exceptions, is FIVE HOURS.

So, how, you may ask, will Hinton et al. get away with what he have affectionately come to know as Wacky Wednesdays?

Dang good question. In the spirit of cooperation and olive branch extending, I have brainstormed some ideas to help the Admin better understand how we can fit 5 hours of instructional time into a 5 hour class day.

First up, when the little annoyances arrive, we can put them all immediately in pull-ups. This will eliminate the need for potty breaks. Pull-ups are now available all the way until Size 8, and if the kid is bigger than a size 8... it won't be long, since they will go every Wednesday with NO LUNCH, before they will be down to a size 8 or below.

Lunch? Who needs lunch? Kids are starving all over the world. Going without lunch on Wednesdays can be part of their social studies lessons.. since we have now been told by Admin that it is best to INTEGRATE themes throughout the day.

On these special Wednesday's, there can be no passing time between classes. So, I recommend we retain the services of some clowns. As the special teachers transition between rooms, the restless kids can be distracted. Mind you, the clowns will have to be part of the academic day as we don't have a single minute to spare, so we could paint numbers on the balls and as they are juggled the kids could solve math problems. Ex. If there are 4 balls in the air and the clown drops 2 how many balls remain in the air??

Parents of children with medical needs may express concern about the lack of flexibility during the class day but we have addressed those issues as well. All parents are encouraged to adjust their children's meds according to the rigors of an intense 5 hour study day with no breaks, recess or lunch. Parents of asthmatic, diabetic, and ADD children can send extra meds in a special little fanny pack. No trips to the nurse will be permitted during the day so all children will be trained to self-medicate.

The opportunities are endless and in fact, throwing Kids out on the street one afternoon a week is such a great idea that soon I will be brainstorming ideas for the middle and high schools as well. I've already started.


ImaSwede said...

I love this!! And when they incorporate the Middle and High Schools, they can use Depends!! Those come in much larger sizes!!

Beth said...

Diane- this is fabulously funny- I think your'e true calling may be writing for Saturday Night live.

Diane Vespa said...

OMG I wrote so much more, but it started bordering on the ridiculous and offensive so I self-edited and quit while I was ahead. Thank you for the comments.

Anonymous said...

To keep the little darlings quiet in their pull-ups, just drug them to get through the day. Solves all problems. No more rowdiness. Better yet, when the parents figure it out, they'll just keep the kids home on Wacky Wednesdays, so the teachers will have even more time for planning. Maybe they can call in experts on the best drugs and pullups to use.

Elaine H.

Peoria AntiPundit said...

I know someone in Food Service at 150 and it is news to them that there will be no lunch on Wednesdays. Where did you get that info?

Eyebrows McGee said...

Antipundit, if they have a Wednesday lunch, D150 won't be within the law for minimum daily instructional time. Under Hinton's current plan, Wednesdays CAN'T have lunch (or passing periods, or recess), the plan is illegal.

On a separate note, OMFG, school doesn't start here until NINE FORTY-FIVE? What the heck, people? How late does it go under the current day? How do people manage to get to work????

PrairieCelt said...

If I'm understanding your post correctly, District 150's highly paid Superintendent, Ken Hinton, recommended to the Board - and the Board approved and passed his recommendation - to change the primary school hours to 8:45 am - 1:45 pm on Wednesdays, and this recommendation does not comply with the terms and provisions of the Illinois School Code because it is 30 minutes short of the mandatory 300 instructional clock minutes per day?

Including the lunch break, the students would have to attend school for at least 5.5 hours (or until 2:15 pm) on Wednesdays in order to meet the minimum statutory requirement for instructional clock minutes of 300 per day. The relevant section of the Illinois School Code specifically states that lunch, recess, passing time, etc. are excluded from the calculation of total daily instructional clock minutes.

Wow, that group on Wisconsin Avenue is a real brain trust, isn't it? Hinton recommends, and the Board passes, a schedule that is illegal. Why does he still have his job?

Why haven't the BOE members who voted for this illegal schedule been replaced? Can't these people count?

What about all the assistant/associate superintendents earning over $100K per year each? Can't they count or tell time either?

Then there is the district's attorneys - Kavanagh, Scully, Sudow, White and Frederick - why didn't they advise their client that the recommendation was illegal, or at the very least, unlawful? They are paid quite well by District #150 (with taxpayer dollars of course). If this is the quality of their legal expertise, is it worth the cost?

Or there is another possible scenario: Hinton knew the recommendation was not in compliance with the Illinois School Code and successfully pushed it through anyway. If that is the case, Hinton exhibited a total lack of respect of, and disregard for, the laws of the State of Illinois and the best interest and welfare of the children of Peoria and should be fired.

Either way, we have a big problem. It's time for a change Peoria. If it doesn't happen soon, the Wisconsin Avenue Brain Trust will completely destroy (if they haven't already damaged it irreparably) our public school system. Can we sit idly by and allow that to happen? said...

Hey Diane, Do you know how the Ridgeview School in Chicago handle shortened Wednesdays? Is their shorten Wednesday not as short as District 150?

mlt said...

State code allows any minutes over 300 each day to be "banked" for school improvement days. Since the other four days have "bank-able" minutes, this may be the logic Mr. Hinton is using in this case.

Diane Vespa said...

We don't feel the other school days are long enough to offer any real "bank-able" opportunities - certainly not enough to justify every 5th day being below the state requirement. Thanks for the comment!

Anonymous said...

Following is the section of the Illinois School Code that discusses this issue.

Please note that this information is contained within the Article specifically dealing with apportionment of state funds based on the calculation of average daily attendance.

This is an excerpt that deals with "bankable hours" (it is found near the end of the citation) and it is much more involved than simply allowing any minutes over 300 to be banked, in fact, districts are required to lengthen some days to accumulate the "missing minutes": (iii) a sufficient number of minutes of school work under the direct supervision of teachers are added to the school days between such regularly scheduled sessions to accumulate not less than the number of minutes by which such sessions of 3 or more clock hours fall short of 5 clock hours.

Here is more of the citation:


Sec. 18‑8.05. Basis for apportionment of general State financial aid and supplemental general State aid to the common schools for the 1998‑1999 and subsequent school years.

(F) Compilation of Average Daily Attendance.

(2) Days of attendance by pupils of less than 5 clock hours of school shall be subject to the following provisions in the compilation of Average Daily Attendance.
(a) Pupils regularly enrolled in a public school for only a part of the school day may be counted on the basis of 1/6 day for every class hour of nstruction of 40 minutes or more attended ursuant to such enrollment, unless a pupil is enrolled in a block‑schedule format of 80 minutes or more of instruction, in which case the pupil may be counted on the basis of the proportion of minutes of school work completed each day to the minimum number of minutes that school work is required to be held that day.

(b) Days of attendance may be less than 5 clock hours on the opening and closing of the school term, and upon the first day of pupil attendance, if preceded by a day or days utilized as an institute or teachers' workshop.

(c) A session of 4 or more clock hours may be counted as a day of attendance upon certification by the regional superintendent, and approved by the State Superintendent of Education to the extent that the district has been forced to use daily multiple sessions.

(d) A session of 3 or more clock hours may be counted as a day of attendance (1) when the remainder of the school day or at least 2 hours in the evening of that day is utilized for an in‑service training program for teachers, up to a maximum of 5 days per school year of which a maximum of 4 days of such 5 days may be used for parent‑teacher conferences, provided a district conducts an in‑service training program for teachers which has been approved by the State Superintendent of Education; or, in lieu of 4 such days, 2 full days may be used, in which event each such day may be counted as a day of attendance; and (2) when days in addition to those provided in item (1) are scheduled by a school pursuant to its school improvement plan adopted under Article 34 or its revised or amended school improvement plan adopted under Article 2, provided that (i) such sessions of 3 or more clock hours are scheduled to occur at regular intervals, (ii) the remainder of the school days in which such sessions occur are utilized for in‑service training programs or other staff development activities for teachers, and (iii) a sufficient number of minutes of school work under the direct supervision of teachers are added to the school days between such regularly scheduled sessions to accumulate not less than the number of minutes by which such sessions of 3 or more clock hours fall short of 5 clock hours. Any full days used for the purposes of this paragraph shall not be considered for computing average daily attendance. Days scheduled for in‑service training programs, staff development activities, or parent‑teacher conferences may be scheduled separately for different grade levels and different attendance centers of the district

Prairie Celt

Diane Vespa said...

Jen, we'd have to call the District to find out the details, but most likely they are not dismissing as early as D150. Some Schools have their hours on their website but this one did not. Why don't you check in to it and get back to us?? ;)

PrairieCelt said...

Here is more research about the "bankable hours" mentioned by another poster. It is important to understand that these "bankable hours" apply only to half-day School Improvement days. The district has scheduled one-half day School Improvement days in previous years and has 6, one-half day School Improvement Days on their 2008-09 school calendar. These days should not be construed as the same thing as the early Wednesday release for common prep time. They are very different things.

This information is copied from an ISBE document entitled, "General State Aid - Frequently Asked Questions," found on the ISBE's website.

Statutory Citation: 105ILCS 5/18-8.05(F)(2)(d)

How does a district qualify for a half-day School Improvement day and how are those days counted?

In order to qualify for a half-day School Improvement day, the district on a regular school day must provide actual instruction time beyond the mandated minimum 300 minutes. Once the district has accumulated (banked) 120 additional instruction minutes, the district qualifies to utilize a half-day school improvement day, coupled with a minimum of 180 minutes of instruction. Once a half-day school improvement day has been taken, bank time goes back to zero. These half-days count as a full-day of attendance for General State Aid purposes for students that are enrolled full-time and have received at least 180 minutes of instruction.

Students enrolled full-time in all grades (K-12) must receive at least 180 minutes of instruction on calendar coded half-days to be claimed for a full-day of attendance. Students enrolled full-time that do not receive at least 180 minutes of instruction on calendar coded half-days but do receive at least 150 minutes of instruction (grades 2 through 12) or 120 minutes of instruction (grades Kindergarten through 1st) can be claimed for a half-day of attendance.

Students enrolled part-time or in a half-day Kindergarten program can only be claimed for the time they were in attendance, (i.e. student attended 2 - 40 minute periods, claim 2/6 of day; afternoon kindergarten did not meet, no attendance can be reported).

To reiterate for clarity, the primary school common prep schedule of a 90-minute shorter Wednesdays approved by the BOE on 06/16/08 is not the same thing as School Improvement days. These 90 minute weekly common preps are in addition to, and different from, School Improvement days.

Anonymous said...

The "common prep time" on Wacky Wednesdays won't be shared by all, because the schools will have to have a rotating duty list of who babysits the kids who missed the bus, or whose parents didn't remember to pick them up. It shouldn't take too long for parents to realize this, either. It'll be a booming free daycare program!

Lois Griffin said...

Diane, YOU rock!, Tues., July 1, 3:26 a.m.:


The District 150 School Board's decision to shorten the school day on Wednesdays by 90 minutes this fall for teacher improvement and planning time at several primary schools may not be final.

Jeff Nelson, assistant regional superintendent of schools for Peoria County, said the school district's proposal does not conform to state school code, according to an initial interpretation of the schedule change by the Illinois State Board of Education.

"Our reading of the code would suggest that under the provisions . . . this would be permissible," Nelson said of District 150's plan, adding state education officials disagreed.

Nelson said he was told that during a recent conference call with ISBE officials, who said improvement days are designed for all schools in a district, not just certain schools as the district has proposed, and the half-days are limited to specific school improvement topics listed in the local school improvement plan.

What's more, the ISBE said the school code mandates a minimum of 300 minutes of instruction every day.

While the school code does not specifically state improvement days must be district-wide, it does say districts must extend the instructional day beyond the mandated minimum of five clock hours and that once a district has accumulated or banked 120 additional minutes, the district qualifies to have a half-day school improvement day, coupled with three hours of supervised instruction.

Currently, District 150 schools operate under a 6 1/2-hour day, with about six hours devoted to instruction, Superintendent Ken Hinton said, meaning the additional time could be banked allowing for the shortened schedule on Wednesdays and the much needed teacher planning time.

"The time to collaborate and look at the data, it has to happen - (teachers) just don't have time to grow professionally," said Hinton, who added the district needs to implement change now if it wants to see drastic student improvement.

The proposal the District 150 School Board approved two weeks ago has students at 12 of the district's 16 primary schools starting school each day this fall at 8:45 a.m. and end at 3:15 p.m. four days of the week. Wednesdays would be shortened by up to 90 minutes, meaning the day will end at 1:45 p.m.

At the time, Hinton asked the board for authority to shorten the 90 minutes as needed. He also noted he may seek future approval to expand the plan to include middle schools and that at least two of the district's high schools also were asking for additional time for professional development.

One option for District 150 to avoid conflict with the state board concerning the shortened day could be to impose the shortened Wednesday schedule at all the district's schools. Another, Hinton said, might be to shorten the time cut on Wednesdays from 90 minutes to 60 minutes, or possibly 45 minutes, thereby maintaining the five instructional hours statutorily required each day.

For District 150 to move forward with the shortened 90 minute schedule, the ISBE suggested the district request a legal opinion from the state board's legal department to clarify the use of shortened days and the uses of half-day school improvement days, Nelson said.

The option to shorten the school day on Wednesdays this coming fall came after a proposal to cut 45 minutes from each school day was amended by the School Board last month, which followed criticism by several parents and some teachers. Hinton said he came up with the new recommendation after meeting with concerned groups, stating the latest option was borne out of potential economic hardships parents might face for additional child care or latchkey programs.

Ultimately, the ISBE would have to approve District 150's schedule.

As it stands, District 150 has yet to file a formal proposal with the Peoria County Regional Office of Education to amend the 2008-09 school calendar, which keeps the schedule as it was.

Dave Haney can be reached at 686-3181 or