D219 Calendar Changes Could Burden Families

District 219 wants to change the start and end date of its school year. The problem: Other schools and park districts are not aware of the proposed change. This could seriously impact families with kids in D219 and elementary school.

The following is a letter to the editor from local parent, Michael B. 

The following opinions are those of the author. Patch provides a platform for readers to express their views. 

Niles Township District 219 High Schools have posted their annual review of programs for the 2013-14 school year. You can view what the district posted on their website here.

There are a number of issues in the review to which the public should give careful consideration, but the item of greatest significance is the proposed change to the school calendar.

It reads: "With final exams ending prior to winter break; school would start the second week of August and end at Memorial Day."

While the district offers a number of sound reasons to consider making this change, there has been very little discussion about this change within the community.

As a parent, I imagine the families who reside in the district and have children at feeder schools (elementary school districts that send students to D219) would be interested to know of this proposal. Of particular interest is the question of whether or not feeder schools will follow suit and adopt this new calendar. At this point, the feeder schools currently start and end within the same week and have the same winter and spring breaks.

If D219 makes this change and feeder schools do not follow suit, then the start and end dates for the high schools will be approximately 2 weeks earlier and spring and winter breaks could be different. 

This will drastically impact families who have children in both elementary school and high school. 

If the district makes this change and feeder schools do follow suit immediately, it will mean the summer of 2013 will be shortened by 2 weeks (with school starting the second week of August) putting an end to any August family vacation plans. This is a short-term issue, but one that parents should be aware of.

Also, summer programs for the Skokie, Morton Grove, Lincolnwood and Niles park districts could be impacted by this change, given that the changes would be effective August 2013. This doesn't give park districts, which rely heavily on the employment of students, much time to react.

Either way, this proposal could result in a significant change to the normal routine of many Skokie-area families, so I thought it was something that our local press should be covering.  

Below is D219's timeline for the proposal to be finalized:

  • Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012 - Town Hall meeting at Niles North High School at 7:00pm for community discussion.
  • Monday, Nov. 26, 2012 - Document revised to represent administration’s recommendations and presented at the board meeting for discussion.
  • Monday, Dec. 17, 2012 - Board will direct the administration to make the changes as detailed in the finalized document for the 2013-14 school year.
JellyBean1 October 07, 2012 at 04:52 PM
I work in a feeder grade school for D219. Please do not make this calendar change. If grade schools begin AUgust 7th for kids, then teachers will be back at meeting the last weeks of July/ first week of August. I also have children, and their schools do not begin until after labor day. I love serving your children, but if this schedule is made I will leave the district for a school that better coincides with my own children's school- which is pretty much every other district in the state. I love working for your families, but I cherish the summers with my own family. The first weeks of august are the only time that my husband can also get off work. WE have a family tradition to all head off camping together, and I am unwilling to lose this work-family balance. Please consider the impact on every involved party before making this change. I understand the rationale that the high schools have for wanting this change, but they are not considering the impact on everyone that this will affect. There are many many teachers in my school district that are in a similar position as I am, and equally concerned by this potential change. Please consider that we are thinking of not only your children, but of our own families too.
Schoolmarm November 03, 2012 at 10:53 PM
To have this discussion thoughtfully at the upcoming meetings, it would behoove us all to remember the purpose which our schools are supposed to serve. At this time, this calendar change has been proposed for our high schools. They are supposed to exist to serve our high school students.Hopefully, any decisions that are made will be made with the students' best interests in mind. Yes, the students' family lives do also figure into this equation and should not be ignored, but the highest priority should be the students, and what is best for them. We need to remember that children need us to speak for them; they do not have a say in many decisions that affect them. If they should choose to go on a camping trip when school is in session, they will be held accountable for their actions. No one will pay someone to take their place while they are on vacation, and pretend that nothing has happened. The students are held accountable for the scores they earn on tests and for their grades. They do not have a group to blame others and argue that they should not have to take responsibility. College admission committees will not be interested in hearing their excuses. For the most part, also, our students and their families do not have the option to quit and go find another school with a schedule that suits them better. Changes at schools should be made with the students and what is best for them in the foreground. Not all of the reasons being stated are about students. Is that right?
beyondjusttests November 12, 2012 at 06:05 PM
Schoolmarm, to think that students are the only part of this equation is naive. Schools are the anchor of a community. Their schedule impacts children and adults alike, as families need to organize their work schedules around their children. Most companies are slower in the beginning of AUgust, as this is an international time of vacation. Making children go back to school the first or second week of AUgust takes away this precious family time. DO you really feel that vactions are worthless wastes of time? IN my family, the annual August vacation is a family tradition that creates a bond with extended family. To me, this is more important than any test score. Are families not the anchor of their children's academic success? Should families not be allowed to have time together? The biggest reason I keep hearing the children give for wanting this change: not wanting to have to study during holiday break... It seems to me that using that time to study might be in their best interest, and make them look better before college admissions committees. It seems the "ambitious" students don't want the calendar change, as they do use the time to study. SHould we let the unambitious guide us to a change? Personally, I don't want to hear student excuses why they are NOT using that winter break time to study.
Schoolmarm November 12, 2012 at 10:44 PM
I did note that students' family lives should also be taken into account. I would still hope, though, that major priority would be given to what is best for the students. Their education is supposed to be what the schools exist for. And no, I neither think not stated that vacations are worthless wastes of time, but I don't see vacation as the major issue here. All of the discussion I see is about adults. Wouldn't it be wonderful if our schools could serve children? (Yes, of course I do know that that doesn't always -- maybe not even often -- happen, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't!)
Schoolmarm November 12, 2012 at 11:10 PM
I should probably also state that I am neither for nor against this change. I am for students' educations, and would like to see schools be for them, too.


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