203 Considers Election Days Off & Breakfast Program

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No school on election days- it’s a topic that’s been a part of conversation in District 204 for years and is now being discussed in District 203.

Currently 203 opens six schools in DuPage County and one in Will County as polling places during local and national elections.

“In light of ensuring that we have a safe environment for our kids, we have to be aware of all visitors and what they’re doing at our school campus. And so that uncertainty can sometimes lead to some confusion and question as to individuals being on campus,” explained Superintendent Dan Bridges.

Administration is also considering adding a short, fall break that could potentially align with the Monday and Tuesday before the November election.

No school on election days would potentially begin in the 2020-2021 school year calendar if approved. But administration is waiting until at least February to proceed further, in order to allow the Illinois State Board of Education more time to give guidance on legislative changes that may impact the school year.

Also of note at the meeting- the board is considering a pilot breakfast program.

The proposal adds healthier morning meal options for students who are already utilizing free and reduced lunch and have no access to breakfast at home.

“Right now if they can’t afford to do so we make sure they have a snack. But a snack sometimes isn’t enough because their last meal may have been the previous day’s lunch. So having a meal in the morning really sustains their focus, their attention, their ability to learn a little bit longer,” said Chuck Freundt, the assistant superintendent for elementary education in the district.

One in every six students in 203 qualifies for free and reduced lunch. Currently both high schools provide a breakfast program, but no middle schools or elementary schools have one.

The pilot program would include mobile breakfast carts to serve hot and cold options in the mornings to four junior high and elementary schools.

“We are proposing junior high students would pay $1.50 for their breakfast and elementary would pay $1.40,” said Melanie Brown, the director of finance and support services in 203. “The participation rate we use for this assumption is 50 percent of eligible free and reduced students at the proposed sites. The figure of 50 percent is based on a known rate of snack requests are the elementary schools.”

The pilot would begin at Scott Elementary, Mill Street Elementary, Jefferson Junior High, and Madison Junior High as they reach the district’s largest demographic of students using free and reduced lunch.

The board will vote on the pilot at its next meeting, and if approved would begin in early February.

Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena reports.