Evanston/Skokie School District 65 is asking the community what they think of starting school one week earlier this fall, as well as no longer closing for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Good Friday.

Those questions are among several in an online school calendar survey posted on the District’s website.

If school did start earlier, on Aug. 18, it would also end one week earlier and the number of school days would not change.

The survey also asks how important it is for District 65’s calendars to remain aligned with Evanston Township High School District 202’s schedule for winter and spring recess, as well as for observed holidays. If the two districts do not have the same calendars, it could be a real problem for parents with children in both systems.

Besides asking how opposed or supportive respondents are to having school on the Jewish Holidays and on Good Friday, the survey asks the same thing about Veterans Day and Presidents Day. The questionnaire also asks how likely students or staff are to show up if the days do become regular school attendance days.

Having school on Jewish Holidays or on Good Friday could create both logistical and symbolic problems. Good Friday can sometimes fall during a five-day spring break, and it seems unlikely that a family planning an out-of-town trip would return for one Friday of school before the weekend.

And for a district that prides itself in being progressive and diverse, telling Jewish parents, students and staff that days which were once seen as important enough to close no longer are could be perceived as an insult.

There is one more scheduling question as well. The district wants to know how the community feels about a full week off for Thanksgiving, rather than the usual three days. If that happens, two days would be added to the end of the school year.

Responses are requested by March 24. The Board of Education is expected to vote on the calendar in April.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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