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Article updated: 1/22/2013 10:43 PM

Exam schedule, holiday changes made to Batavia school years

By Susan Sarkauskas

Batavia High School students will be able to go on Christmas break this year without dreaded final examinations looming over them.

The Batavia school board Tuesday set calendars for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years that end the first semesters before the holiday.

It was one of several changes parents and students will see about their school schedules.

The semester-end change led to others, as district officials tried to balance the number of days in each semester. To do that, all students will start classes a day earlier in August; ; and classes will be held the first two days of the Thanksgiving holiday week.

Instead of a school holiday on Columbus Day, there will be a teacher institute day.

In 2014 and 2015 school attendance will end before Memorial Day, if no emergency-closing days are used. Teachers will have to work the Tuesday after the holiday for year-end tasks.

Board member Jack Hinterlong suggested that if students attended school on the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday, the teachers wouldn't have to come back after Memorial Day. But no other board members were willing to make that change.

In January, the board reviewed a calendar proposal that would have moved teacher institute days to Wednesdays, from Fridays. Brad Newkirk, the chief academic officer, said then officials thought that would increase teachers' attendance at them, as well as students' attendance the day before. Teachers are not required to attend the institute programming, which is offered to help them improve. They can take a personal or sick day off.

"We do really try to pack those days with professional learning," Newkirk said Monday.

Teachers objected, however, saying that the midweek institute days would be disruptive to students; their union agreed to work on bettering attendance at the institutes. And three parents emailed Newkirk, he said, saying they wanted the October three-day weekend preserved, because their children played in soccer tournaments on that weekend.

The district has no control over an institute day set by the Kane County Regional Office Education, usually held in February and March, he said.

The board also approved having classes on Presidents Day in 2014 and 2015. Newkirk said having classes on that day, with special emphasis on learning about the U.S. presidency, could be "a gradual step in to using these holidays (Veterans Day, Columbus Day, King Day) for more educational programming." It conducts classes on Veterans Day.

Both of the student ambassadors to the board supported the final-exam decision.

, after talking to their teachers and fellow students. "I think it is what we all want," said Megan Imundo.

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