At the District 65 School Board’s meeting on March 19, the Board approved a few revisions to the school calendar for this year, 2017-2018, and the calendar for next year, 2018-2019.
School Year 2017-2018
Beatrice Davis, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, noted that the District canceled school due to inclement weather on Feb. 9, and that this year’s calendar includes five Emergency Days at the end of the school year to be used in the event of unscheduled school closings.
Instead of using the Emergency Days to extend the school year to provide an additional instructional day for students, Ms. Davis said, administrators recommended that the last day of school for students remain as scheduled on June 4. They also recommended that June 5, one of the Emergency Days, be used as a full-day School Improvement Day.
“This change will not impact the last day of school for students or eighth grade graduation dates,” said Ms. Davis. “The goal of the full-day School Improvement Day is to provide professional development that will foster our staff’s capacity to build stronger and more trusting relationships with students as well as to improve faculty communication and coordination related to school safety, crisis management, and school climate.”
She said District 65 is able to include up to two full-day School Improvement Days in the school calendar and have them counted toward the required number of school days for students under a waiver granted by the Illinois State Board of Education in 2016 to accommodate added professional learning opportunities for educators, administrators, and support staff.
School Year 2018-2019
A tentative calendar for the 2018-19 school year that was approved by the School Board in April 24, 2017, was also revised. Ms. Davis said administrators were recommending that two full-day School Improvement Days be added and scheduled for Aug. 21 and Aug. 22, prior to the proposed Teacher Institute Days scheduled for Aug. 23 and 24. The first day of school would remain the same, Aug. 27.
Because the two School Improvement Days count toward the required number of school days for students, two school days would be eliminated at the end of the school year, and the last day of school would be June 3, 2019, rather than June 5, 2019.
Under the revised calendar, the total number of student school days would be 174 days, rather than 176 days.
“The proposed first day of school for students as well as holidays, winter and spring break remain unchanged,” said Ms. Davis. “The proposed calendar will remain aligned with District 202 in regard to start date, holiday observances, and winter and spring recess.”
Adding the two School Improvement Days before the school year will ensure that all District 65 teachers have an opportunity to participate in the two-day Beyond Diversity equity training before the school year starts, said Ms. Davis. Teachers who have already participated in Beyond Diversity training may participate in workshops on culturally relevant and responsive teaching on those two days.
Ms. Davis said this approach is more cost-effective and less disruptive than offering Beyond Diversity training in small groups at various times during the school year, and using substitute teachers to fill in for teachers when they attend the training sessions.
Paul Goren, Superintendent, said this is a “special case” applicable only to the 2018-2019 school year. He said it will enable all teachers to complete the Beyond Diversity training before the start of the school year.
When asked how the loss of two instructional days would impact students, Dr. Goren said the impact would be mitigated by eliminating the disruption that would occur if teachers were pulled out of their classrooms and replaced by substitute teachers during the school year so they could participate in the Beyond Diversity training.