District 65 school board members and parents Monday said the district’s proposed calendar for next year has too many early dismissal days that will disrupt family schedules.

The calendar, presented by Superintendent Hardy Murphy, calls for seven early dismissal days, up from five this year to provide extra time for teacher training.

Next year’s early dismissal days would occur on the first Wednesday each month from November through May. The five days this year all fall on Thursdays.

Jane Grover of 2703 Prairie Ave. said she’s heard a lot of grumbling from other parents about the five early release days. “Seven puts it beyond the tipping point, and I think you’re going to get a lot of complaints,” she said.

Other parents suggested moving the early dismissal days to Fridays would help make them work better with the complex schedules of families in which both parents work.

Rhonda Present of the non-profit group Parents Work, agreed the schedule poses problems and said the district’s PTA Council hadn’t had time to fully review it, but she praised the district administration for encouraging more open discussion about the calendar than in previous years.

Murphy said the extra time for teacher training is needed to help teachers meet district goals for providing individualized instruction for students.

He argued that the training is more effective when its spread across the school year so teachers can quickly try out new techniques in their classes and get feedback on how well they’re doing.

And he said that while the district could hire substitute teachers to fill in for those participating in training programs, so students didn’t have to be sent home, it would cost $30,000 in pay for substitutes for each day of teacher training under that approach.

But after several board members suggested the calendar needed revision, Murphy promised to produce an updaed version in time for the board’s next meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 19.

Under the proposed schedule students would start classes on Tuesday, Sept. 2, the day after Labor Day, and end with a one-hour session on Friday, June 12.

In addition to the early dismissal days, students would also have the following breaks:

  • A half day on Monday, Sept. 29 followed by a day off on Rosh Hashanah, Tuesday, Sept. 30.
  • A day off on Yom Kippur, Tuesday, Oct. 9.
  • A day off on Columbus Day, Monday, Oct. 13.
  • A day off on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 4.
  • A day off on Veterans Day, Tuesday, Nov. 11.
  • A half day on Tuesday, Nov. 25, followed by days off for Thanksgiving on Wednesday through Friday Nov. 26-28.
  • Winter recess from Monday, Dec. 22 through Friday, Jan 2.
  • A day off on Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 19.
  • A half day off on Thursday, Jan. 29, followed by a full day off on Friday, Jan 30.
  • A day off on Presidents’ Day, Feb. 16.
  • A day off on Pulaski Day, Monday, Mar. 2.
  • Spring recess from Monday, April 6 through Friday, April 10.
  • A half day on Friday, May 22, followed by a day off on Monday, May 25.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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