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.
h m August 28, 2012 at 11:57 AM
This change has been talked about for years. When my son Graduated in '07, at that time they talking about possibly changing start and end dates so the seniors could fit summer college into their schedule.
Amy Rubinberg August 28, 2012 at 12:28 PM
I would not be happy about this at all! Overnight camps often end not much before that and kids need time to get ready for school.
Skokie Mike August 28, 2012 at 01:21 PM
I bet this suggestion was made by Gatta's father's company who D219 pays as a consultant. It's a family affair at D219!
h m August 28, 2012 at 01:29 PM
Maybe another way to do this would be so that only juniors/seniors start two weeks earlier and get out earlier. Instead of having both schools having freshman, sophomores, juniors, & seniors, split the grades up by school. Let Niles North have freshman and sophomore students and then Niles West have the Juniors and Seniors or the other way around. This way none of the teachers would have to work any extra. One of the arguments against this would be that some kids would not be able to participate in the sport team of there choice. I'm sorry, academics are more important then sports. As far as extracurricular activities, have them at each school. By splitting the schools into two grades you might not have to fight the teachers union. You do not expect the union teachers to work 2 extra weeks. It might infringe on their time. Oh, I forgot they are suppose to be working with us (the community) to benefit our children. Not working for us and only benefiting themselves. Why have sympathy on the union or the teachers that hold our children hostage? When was the last time you got a guaranteed raise each and every year? How many of you out there have, had to work longer hours for the same or less money? What ever happened to 'Pay me a little now, and when I retire, then pay me a pension for the my life''? Now, the teachers want 'Pay me the same, if not more than a private working now and when I retire, then pay me a pension for the my life''
h m August 28, 2012 at 01:34 PM
The only reason that I will not comment on the overpaid administrators is, at least they work 12 months out of the year. Mike, if Gatta's father's company is being paid as a consultant, you can only blame the School Board. They would of had to approve this contract. It is time to get a new school board that will question what the administration is doing and not just do what the administration wants. They are elected by the community. they should looking out for the community and not just rubber stamping what the administration wants.
Mary Jones August 28, 2012 at 01:53 PM
unless the feeder schools also were on board with the same schedules I would not approve of this new change to the district. It will impact too many families.
h m August 28, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Mary, If one school was for Freshman/Sophomores and the other was for Juniors/Seniors, would you be on board with something like that?
Dedicated Parent August 28, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Kudos to the parent who posted this important information! I agree with the reason for wanting the change but don't think that it's in the best interest of the community at large. There are too many stakeholders who will be impacted by this change. Separating the schools into two class levels at each is one that I would not support, The high school experience is defined by having all grades represented with the older students being mentors for the younger. Many D219 programs are designed to support all grade levels being in one building. Also, transportation would be an issue. I would not want to drive to NW when we live within walking distance to NN. The real issue here is the D219 Board of Education! They don't feel that they're obligated to communicate with all staekeholders on issues that impact everyone prior to putting the issue on the annual review. They do not seek community input unless they are forced to do so! I support D219 teachers! They are the ones educating our children to prepare them to successfully move on to college or enter work place. The administrators may be contracted to work 12 months a year but many are often unavailable if you try to reach them. D219 BOE held a public hearing on the budget last night. No members from the community spoke up! Why? Perhaps, because this important budget hearing was not well publicized? D219 teachers are working without a contract . The Superintendent's contract has been renewed. What's wrong here? ASK QUESTIONS!
Cconcerned resident August 28, 2012 at 04:14 PM
The reality is that the highschool students start early in August often anyway before the official first day. SPD camps end the 1st wk of August (has been thay way for the 13 yrs ive had someone in it) due to the college students going back to school in early August. If the highschool student is in a sport, whatever yr they are, the season starts early August- IHSA sets that date, not our district. Highschool orientation for freshman & book p/u are the wk before school officially starts also. Our Skokie feeder school district (73 1/2) already ends 1-2 wks before 219 so both June & August vacation has been disrupted for us for many yrs. Besides a couple of no school days, December & spring break- the schedules were already different for some of us. The real question is, will all the highschool stuff that starts in August already now get pushed to July?
Schoolmarm August 28, 2012 at 06:23 PM
During the 2011-2012 school year, the "Skokie Review" published some figures stating that a fair percentage of D 219 graduates do not seem to be ready for college- level classes upon high school graduation. (They gave specific numbers from Oakton of the number who do not test into college- level courses on the required placement tests given to all entering freshmen.) What happens is that these students will be required to take remedial courses, which they will be unable to transfer, and which will not count towards graduation. This will happen at any college they attend, and has the potential to cause them to " lose" a semester or more and graduate later than they had planned on. For such students, being able to attend summer school can be a great boon. It can allow them to complete their remedial classes and catch up. Then, they can start their credit classes in the fall with others who graduated from high school at the same time, and they will not have to start out behind. For students in that position, finishing high school in time to attend summer term can be a great opportunity. That reason alone makes it worth exploring.
George Slefo (Editor) August 28, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Thank you for the comment Schoolmarm! We also covered the same topic and if anyone is interested, they can check it out here: http://patch.com/A-sJM8 Best, George
Schoolmarm August 28, 2012 at 06:56 PM
I did not mean to ignore your coverage. I am new to reading the Patch, and only recently learned of its existence. My apologies!
George Slefo (Editor) August 28, 2012 at 06:59 PM
No offense taken! We attribute information from the Skokie Review sometimes and we think they're great. Thanks again for the comment =) Best, George
Teaching mom August 28, 2012 at 07:24 PM
District 230 (Orland Park) made this change over 10 years ago. These same issues were brought up, but now everyone there loves it. Especially, for the students, having exams before Winter Break
ML August 28, 2012 at 09:46 PM
h m, I don't think your suggestion is practical. Unlike grade school, many many classes contain mixed grade levels. Many freshman and sophomores take classes where the majority of classmates are juniors or seniors and vice versa. Would the unfortunate sophomore taking "junior/senior" classes attend school an additional 2 weeks? Will the students be bused between campuses? Sounds like a time waster there. Who will pay for the extra expenses? I don't see where any money - or time - is saved.
Maria Bielecki Finkelstein August 28, 2012 at 11:27 PM
change is good
rzdw92 August 29, 2012 at 05:21 PM
awesome, this time it took 3 whole Patch comments before I read an angry, deranged, and irrelevant personal attack. we're getting better folks! lol
Roxanne Conway September 12, 2012 at 08:14 PM
Go on Skokie Mike,... you know you want to blame it on the Pitt Bulls...
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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