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So far, 1,200 respond to Dixon Public Schools start time survey

In another matter, incentives added to boost numbers to annual Illinois 5Essentials Survey

Students at Dixon High School are dismissed from class on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. Dixon Public Schools has asked members of the community to fill out a survey asking whether it should start the school day later.

DIXON – Dixon Public Schools has received about 1,200 responses to an online community survey asking whether the school day should have a later start time.

“It’s an awesome response,” said Rachael Gehlbach, vice president of the board of education, in providing an update during a regular meeting on Wednesday.

The survey, which went up Jan. 11, will continue through Jan. 31, after which the Community Engagement Committee will compile and share the full results.

Students at Dixon High School are dismissed from classes on the afternoon of Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. Dixon Public Schools is conducting a survey asking the community if class should start later in the day.

The committee met Tuesday night and took its first look at the numbers. In discussion, the committee said it intends to share the result to the board in February, giving the community time to comment further. The current timeline is for the board to make a decision in March.

In essence, the district wants to know how people in the community feel about moving the first bell to 8:30 a.m. in the 2022-23 school year. Dismissal would be at 3 p.m.

This year classes start at 7:45 a.m. and let out at 2:15 p.m.

“We want to know what people think,” Gehlbach said. The survey is intended for all Dixon residents, not just those who have children presently attending school.

The survey can be accessed from the district’s web page at https://www.dps170.org/.

In its presentation, the district anticipates that the change might be felt by working families relying on daycare services, the effect bus schedules have on traffic patterns, and student involvement in extracurricular activities or after-school jobs.

The district also provided links to research that shows how a later start improves student health, well-being and classroom performance.

Rachael Gehlbach, at right, vice president of the Dixon Public Schools board of education, takes part in a discussion during a regular meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2022. Gehlbach gave an update on the Community Engagement Committee's survey on moving the start time of the school day. Board President Linda Wegner appears at left and Rachel Cocar appears by remote video feed in the screen above.

Illinois 5Essentials Survey

Gehlbach also shared with the board initiatives the committee is taking to boost parental participation in the Illinois 5Essentials Survey, which is administered by the University of Chicago on behalf of the Illinois State Board of Education.

She said it has been difficult to get parents to take the survey in the past. This year, students will take home notes explaining the survey. Each note will have a QR code and place for parents to sign and return.

To encourage participation, the classrooms with the highest rate of returned survey slips will be entitled to donuts and juice. Those participating students will be entered in a gift card drawing, with a winner selected from each building.

The data from the surveys are used in assisting school improvement plans and to help determine measures of success as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

The “five essentials” the survey hopes to gather data on are: effective leaders, collaborative teachers, involved families, supportive environments and ambitious instruction.

Teachers, parents and students in grades four through 12 can respond to the survey. Reports are generated for schools if the response rate exceeds 50%. These results are included in the State School Report Card.

This year’ survey will be conducted Feb. 3 to April 2. More information on the survey can be found at https://www.5-essentials.org/illinois.

Troy Taylor

Troy E. Taylor

Was named editor for Saukvalley.com and the Gazette and Telegraph in 2021. An Illinois native, he has been a reporter or editor in daily newspapers since 1989.