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Late Start Information

On Tuesday, May 21, 2024, the Darien 61 Board of Education approved the implementation of Late Start days into the school calendar beginning with the 2024-2025 school year.

Throughout the past school year, we have been diligently working to develop a plan that balances the needs of our community while providing essential professional learning time for our staff. After evaluating multiple proposals, including Early Dismissal and reallocation of daily staff hours, we found that these options did not fully meet our district’s needs. As a result, in collaboration with the Darien Education Association (DEA), the district developed the Late Start proposal. This initiative is designed to allocate dedicated professional learning time for our teachers while minimizing the impact on students and the community.

The district recognizes the importance of maintaining a balance between professional learning for our teachers and minimizing disruptions to students' education. The introduction of Late Start days aims to achieve this balance, ensuring we continue to deliver high-quality education while supporting our dedicated staff.

To better inform our community about Late Start Days and the use of Professional Learning Time, the district is preparing information to be shared on the district website and future communications. The initial communication focuses on the “What and Why” of Late Start days.  The district will be updating this page to provide more information to out community.

What is Late Start?

  • Once a week on Wednesdays (beginning August 28, 2024), students will arrive later on Wednesdays, reducing instructional time by 35-40 minutes on these days.
  • Teachers and staff will have 60 minutes of Professional Learning Time on Wednesday mornings before students arrive for school.
  • The end of the school day remains unchanged.
  • Preschool day is unchanged

The information is taken from the presentation provided to the Board of Education by the district and Darien Education Association.  The slide show can be viewed with this link.

You can also watch the presentation with this link-

Why is the district implementing Late Start?

There are many reasons for the implementation of Late Start. Ultimately Late Start allows the district to provide continuous high quality professional learning to our staff, with a minimal disruption to the school day.  This in turn allows them to apply what they learn more immediately within their instruction to benefit student learning. This communication is focusing on the purpose and intention of Late Start.

Purpose of Late Start 

- Fulfill the agreement between the Board of Education (BOE) and the teacher association, which includes 60 minutes of weekly professional learning time.
- Address concerns expressed by the community and staff with previous proposals “Early Dismissal, Alternate Teacher Schedule”.
- Align with our strategic plan goals to best support student needs and foster innovative staff development.

Importance of Professional Learning

Research has shown that continuous professional learning for teachers significantly enhances their teaching efficacy, which in turn leads to improved student growth and achievement. 

Over the past few years, our district has adopted new math and ELA curriculums while shifting our instruction to best meet the needs of our students.  By providing our teachers with dedicated time each week for professional learning, we enable them to engage in focused planning, collaborate on instructional, and monitor student progress more effectively. This intentional time is crucial for implementing district and school initiatives, refining instructional practices, and ensuring that every student reaches their full potential. 

How will Late Start affect the school schedule/calendar?

Starting with the 2024-2025 School Year, Darien 61 will initiate a weekly Late Start schedule.  Every Wednesday all schools will begin their day 35-40 minutes later than normal. Weeks in which a ½ day or institute day occurs there will be no late start for that week.

To help compensate for the reallocation of instructional time on Wednesdays, the district reduced the number of ½ day SIP days (6 to 4) and number of full-day teacher conference days (2 down to 1).  You can view the updated 2024-2025 calendar HERE. 
With these changes, we will see a negligible difference in overall instructional time.   School improvement teams are working on schedules to ensure minimal impact on core instruction and special subjects. Overall there will be:
No change to the Pre-K Schedule
Students in Grades K-5 would receive the same amount of instructional time in Music, Art, PE, Tech and STEM received in a normal school day.
Students in K-5 will utilize an altered schedule. Some SEL/WIN time is lost in order to provide core instruction.
Students in 6-8 will utilize an altered schedule that may call for slight reduction in period times.

School hours on Late Start Wednesdays

Eisenhower School:
7:20-8:20 AM – Professional Learning Time
8:20 AM – Students Arrive
8:30 AM – Instruction Begins
2:25 PM – Day Ends

Lace Elementary School:
7:45-8:45 AM – Professional Learning Time
8:45 AM – Students Arrive
8:55 AM – Instruction Begins
2:50 PM – Day Ends

Mark DeLay School (K-2):
8:00-9:00 AM – Professional Learning Time
9:00 AM – Students Arrive
9:10 AM – Instruction Begins
3:05 PM – Day Ends

Future Communications

Look for additional communications to arrive throughout  the summer.  The District is developing a website to provide more information regarding the research behind professional learning, and how the district intends to use the time to best meet the needs of our students.  Throughout the 2024-2025 school year, the district will continue with communications, and seek feedback from staff and families. We aim to ensure continuous improvement and address any support needs that arise.