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Suburban school districts explore lunch requirement

School officials in north suburban Niles say the number of students taking class instead of lunch is on the rise.

Kaine Osburn, principal at Niles West High School, said the change is mostly due to scheduling conflicts.

“They’re taking band or orchestra or choir or a specialty science class that we have instead of lunch because of when it’s scheduled,” Osburn said.

According to Osburn, administrators plan to propose a lunch requirement for every student to the school board next fall. They will begin talking to parents about the issue soon.

But Niles West is not alone.

At New Trier Township High School and others, students are also allowed to choose class over lunch with their parent’s permission.

In 2005, the New Trier school board discussed mandating lunch, but ultimately decided against it. District spokeswoman Nicole Dizon said fewer than 70 students are scheduled for all nine periods this year.

There is no state or federal mandate requiring lunch, but most districts automatically schedule it for students. One of those is nearby Glenbrook South where Brian Wegley is principal.

“I’m much more interested in our students progressing safely and emotionally rather than having 30 credits,” Wegley said.

Osburn said a required lunch period is no different than requiring daily physical education, foreign language or even math and English.

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