ST. CHARLES – As part of a new three-year agreement with the St. Charles Education Association, the school day at all of the district's elementary schools will be extended by 40 minutes starting in the fall of 2020.
At their June 10 meeting, St. Charles District 303 School Board members approved the new three-year contract with the association, which represents the district's teachers. The board also approved three-year agreements with the associations for the St. Charles Educational Support Professionals and the St. Charles Transportation and Maintenance.
"We'll be able to maintain the same amount of core instruction and we'll be able to provide additional learning opportunities beyond core instruction," St. Charles Education Association President Joe Blomquist said following the meeting. "What those opportunities will be we don't quite know yet because we're going to work with parents and teachers and administrators to identify what other enrichment opportunities we want built into their school day."
Elementary students will attend school for 7 hours instead of the current 6 hours and 20 minutes.
"This increase will allow our students to maintain their current access to core instruction and provide more fine arts, as well as other enrichment opportunities," stated a message the district sent to parents following the board action. "This change will not take effect until the 2020-21 school year, giving our staff the necessary time to plan as well as providing appropriate notice to families. The school board believes the longer elementary day aligns with the D303 strategic commitment to support innovative learning and gives our elementary students important enhancements to their school day.
Richmond Intermediate School has a 40-minute extended school day, which runs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. It implemented the longer school day eight years ago.
The change occurred when the district made Davis a kindergarten through second grade school and Richmond a third through fifth grade school. Previously, both schools taught kindergarten through fifth grades.
"When they did that, they did that with the intent that Richmond's going to have this longer day to provide them these additional learning opportunities and we're going to use that to determine if this is something that we want to pursue on a more wide scale," Blomquist said.
The longer school day will also provide teachers with time to collaborate.
"We refer to them as Professional Learning Communities," he said. "We've been using them, but the structure of the elementary school day has kind of restricted how much time we have had to have those professional conversations."
The start and end times of the elementary school day have yet to be determined. Specifics about the start and end times for elementary and middle schools will be finalized and announced prior to the 2019 winter break, district officials stated.
The district plans to conduct a focus group this fall to help the staff plan for implementation.
For the first time, the contract ties salary increases for teachers to the annual consumer price index.
"We want to attract high quality teachers to our district in a way that is fiscally responsible," Blomquist said. "I'm really proud that our new salary structure actually takes that into account. Rather than forecasting what it is going to be in the next year or three years, let's actually base it off what it is going to be for the next three years."
For example, a teacher with 20 years experience would see about a 12 percent pay increase over the next three years, he said.
"That's based on the assumption that CPI would probably be around 2 percent on any given year," Blomquist said.
A St. Charles School District 303 teacher with a master's degree and 20 years of experience currently makes $79,030 a year, he said.
The current contract with the teacher's union expires Aug. 11 and the new contract will start on Aug. 12, the first day that teachers report back following the summer break.