The District 202 School Board voted Monday to drop Pulaski Day as a school holiday at Evanston Township High School next year, but put off a decision on Columbus Day until after further discussion at its next meeting.

The two days are included among five that a local school district can waive without getting prior approval from the state.

At the same time, little support was exhibited for taking Pulaski Day off at District 65 as well, although a final decision is not expected until the April 23 meeting.  It was on the agenda of a working board meeting that was designated for discussion only.

Some members of both boards expressed support for keeping school in session on Columbus Day, although others contend that it has traditionally been a day of high absenteeism on the part of both students and teachers, presumably because many of their parents are off work as well.

At District 65, members were pessimistic about beginning the school year on the fourth Monday in August, as the high school is planning to do. The president of the District 65 teachers union, Jean Luft, referred to those August days as teaching in “a hot brick oven” and contended that student learning suffers as a result.

The two school calendars are drawn up simultaneously by both districts with the stated objective of having them coincide as much as possible in order to minimize the inconvenience on the part of parents who have students in both districts.

A change in the state law prohibits District 65 from scheduling the last day of school for one hour as it has done for many years. Teachers say they need all the time they can get in order to clean out their rooms for the summer break, but many parents have suggested that little learning, if any, occurs on such a short school day.

State law now requires a school day to last a minimum of five hours.

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 Comment

  1. Hooray for rationality

    Hooray for a continuing and rational reconsideration of holidays.  Some have virtually no meaning to most of the population, and they make the school calendar look like the National Mall in DC.

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