District 205 moving to unified school year calendar for 2017-18

All school levels to begin school year Aug. 16; high school finals set before winter break

(Elmhurst Titan video by Dave Lemery)

ELMHURST – There’s a big change coming to the calendar for District 205 schools during the 2017-18 school year: No longer will the schools have different start dates in August.

A unified calendar for the entire school district was one of the highlights of an action-packed agenda at the Feb. 28 School Board meeting. James Woell, assistant superintendent for human resources, presented to the board the highlights of next school year’s schedule, which will feature:

“The calendar setting process is a little bit cumbersome at times, but we do involve teachers, representatives from the parent community and the PTA as well as our support staff members when we set the school calendar.”

• A start date for all schools of Aug. 16, 2017

• The last day for all levels will be Thursday, May 24, 2018.

• If emergency days need to be used, the final date could be pushed as late as June 1, 2018.

• Winter break will begin Dec. 25, 2017, and students will return Jan. 8, 2018

• Spring break will begin March 26, 2018, and students will return April 2, 2018.

• Institute Days will be held Aug. 14, Aug. 15, Jan. 22 and March 2.

• High School graduation will be Sunday, May 20, 2018.

“The calendar setting process is a little bit cumbersome at times, but we do involve teachers, representatives from the parent community and the PTA as well as our support staff members when we set the school calendar,” Woell said.

Woell said that the previous practice of staggering the start date almost became a problem last year because the state requires consolidated districts to submit a single calendar. Because the high school began its school year after the other levels, state reimbursements for days that officially took place before the start of the school year were put in peril.

“With the new system that [state agencies] have, it would kick back those dates and we would not receive any of that funding for days that the high school is in session because it’s outside the bounds of our school calendar,” Woell said. “So that’s one reason that we moved to a unified start again from what had been a split start.”

“The whole premise of having finals done before Christmas is backed up by data. … We tracked students’ performance, and they perform much better when they have it done before break.”

Another key element relates to final exams at the high school level. In the new calendar, all exams will take place before the winter break.

“The whole premise of having finals done before Christmas is backed up by data,” board member Chris Blum said. “We tracked students’ performance, and they perform much better when they have it done before break.”

Board member John McDonough acknowledged that the schedule was bound to draw some criticism no matter what dates were set.

“Every time you move a piece, there’s someone that gets left out, and it is unfortunate, and I just want to tell the community that someone is going to be unhappy with this,” he said. “And we know this, but this is what happens. … Whatever the adjustment is, someone’s not going to like it.”

Woell indicated that going forward, the district might try to take a longer view when setting calendars.

“Ideally moving forward with this process, we would like to plan out – don’t fall over – two years at a time so that we don’t have to do this on a year by year basis.”

The schedule for parent teacher conferences also was set:

• Oct. 3, 2017: 4 to 8:30 p.m., high school

• Oct. 10, 2017: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., high school (No school for high school students only)

• Oct. 19, 2017: 4 to 8:30 p.m., middle school

• Oct. 20, 2017: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., middle school (No school for middle school students only)

• Nov. 20, 2017: 4:30 to 8 p.m., elementary school

• Nov. 21, 2017: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., elementary school (No school for elementary students only)

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