Parents of students in Evanston/Skokie District 65 schools were warned last night that they should check the official school calendar on the district’s website before they make travel plans for the summer.
Because it is rare that the area’s public schools close because of winter weather, some school PTAs have circulated calendars to parents that fail to list the designated emergency days that are built into the calendar each year.
For the current school year, for example, the official calendar, approved last year, designated Friday, June 6, and Monday through Thursday of the following week as emergency closing makeup days.
As it turns out, there have been four days so far this winter in which officials closed the schools because of weather. To maintain consistency of instruction, the district first proposed using Pulaski Day on March 3 as one of the makeup days and June 6 as another.
Then when schools were closed again for two days last week, the district elected to use Monday and Tuesday, June 9 and 10, as makeup days, as noted on the official calendar. The high school similarly used those days to make up for the recent closings.
Before the official board meeting began last night, the district conducted a public hearing on the use of Pulaski Day as a makeup day. They are required to do this because the Illinois School Code requires it if they wish to stay open on a state holiday.
The only objections from the public came from teachers union officials, who stated that contract provisions could penalize teachers for using sick days if they needed to be off on Pulaski Day.
Board President Tracy Quattrocki assured the teachers that the board would consider waiving such penalties if a hardship exists for teachers or staff members.
But some camps, such as the YMCA’s Camp Echo, told district officials that they could not delay the June 9 start of the camp because of contractual commitments, according to Chief Administrative Officer Barbara Hiller.
After the public hearing, when the board took its vote on the motion to waive Pulaski Day as a holiday, it passed by a 5-1 vote, with member Claudia Garrison, a former middle school teacher, casting the dissenting vote. Member Eileen Budde was absent.