The District 202 administration proposed calendars for the next three school years to the School Board at its April 23 meeting.
On behalf of the Calendar Committee, Assistant Superintendent/Principal Oscar Hawthorne recommended that next year the standard 176-day school year begin on Sept. 4 and subsequent years have an established starting day of the fourth Monday in August.
Mr. Hawthorne said that the Committee, which is composed of administrators, parents, staff and teachers, made the recommendation for the standardized start date in order to establish year-to-year consistency, which has not been the case in past years.
In addition, the August start date would provide additional instruction time for students to prepare for the Prairie State Achievement Examination and Advanced Placement exams. Also, the change would bring the District in line with other high schools in the northern suburbs. According to Mr. Hawthorne, “Evanston Township High School is the only [one] not in session in the 3rd or 4th week of August.”
Board President Mark Metz said that the comments he had received from the public about the possibility of this change were “overwhelmingly about coordination with D65.”
“We have a joint calendar meeting [with D65],” said Mr. Hawthorne. “This is not a new topic at all. … We brought this up in the fall. … D65 didn’t give us an indication at the time [of what they intended to do].”
Mr. Metz commented that D65 was scheduled to vote on the calendar issue at their meeting April 23. Board member Jonathan Baum added that it was his understanding that they would vote on the 2012-13 calendar, but would postpone their consideration of later calendars in order that the Calendar Committees of each District could meet to consider the issue of the earlier start date.
Board member Gretchen Livingston expressed concern that an earlier start date, combined with a predominance of 6-week summer school classes and fall sports camps, would limit the possibility of family vacation time to the first week in August. She also pointed out that “D65 has a summer school schedule that bears no relationship to ours” and that as a result “there would never be a time for family vacation … I’m troubled by that.”
Mr. Hawthorne said that if D202 started earlier in the fall, the regular school year would end earlier, which would mean that summer school could start earlier. He said that an earlier summer school start would result in more time between the end of summer school and the beginning of fall sports camps, allowing for additional opportunity for family vacation or other time off for students. “The start of fall season [for sports] is a set date [established by] the Illinois High School Association.”
“Summer is a time when kids do need a break,” said Board member Deborah Graham.
“We’re not adding or subtracting time,” said Mr. Metz. “It’s just a shift.”
“I’m personally persuaded that the earlier start makes sense,” said Mr. Baum, but he cautioned that despite D202’s best efforts, coordination with D65 “may not happen.”
The Board is scheduled to vote on the calendars at its next meeting on May 7.