There’s a good reason why Evanston Township High School wants to begin the 2019-2020 school year five days before the Evanston/Skokie School District 65 classes begin, says Superintendent Eric Witherspoon.

By starting classes on Wednesday, Aug. 21, instead of the following Monday, he explained in a memo to the District 202 School Board, exams for the first semester will be concluded before the two school districts begin their winter break on Dec. 23, 2019.

Otherwise, students would have a full “high pressure week” awaiting them “to get back into their studies and then take final exams.”

Also, the winter break becomes a “true break” and offers students an academic “fresh start” for their new semester.

Another advantage is that it gives students a slightly longer second semester, Witherspoon said, which enables them to cope better with SAT and Advanced Placement exams.

Additionally, he said, the ETHS calendar calls for graduation in 2020 to be on Sunday of the Memorial Day weekend, which is useful “because it provides an additional day for travel when relatives are coming from a distance to graduation.”

It also provides an additional day for graduation parties and celebrations, he added.

For several years, the two districts have established a joint calendar committee to ensure that both their calendars will have school holiday closures and the winter and spring breaks at the same time, as a benefit to families that have students in both districts.

Although both school boards plan to review a draft of their calendars for the 2019-2020 school year at their meetings Monday night, formal approval is expected to occur during a joint meeting of the two boards at ETHS on May 21.

Related story:

D65 may start school year later in 2019 than ETHS

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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  1. Is it really that hard to coordinate schedules?
    Educating our kids is a challenging endeavor.

    Can’t D65 & D202 coordinate the school year to alleviate child care issues for working parents?

    This is a major Equity Issue.

    Logistics should be the least of our worries.

    1. I agree that they need to

      I agree that they need to coordinate better, but this was the right move by ETHS. I have heard that they have asked D65 countless times to do this with no change. They had to force their hand. Having finals after a 2 week break makes zero sense. Students often forget things over this break. Also after enduring the stresses of finals, it is nice to have a break.  This decision was made in the best interest of the students at ETHS education. 

      1. Tail wagging the dog
        ETHS serves about 25% of the school age children in Evanston. So why is its voice more important than D65? Young children matter, too.

        D65 has cited contract issues and air-conditioning as arguments for the slightly later start. Camps are scheduled to run mid-June to mid-August to accommodate D65 scheduling.

        ETHS has not mentioned the implications for fall sports behind this move.

        Your assumption that what ETHS proposes is “best” is one-sided.

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