Survey: Dist. 211 parents, students eager for calendar change

Posted1/15/2015 5:30 AM

Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 board members today will review the results of a recent survey of parents, students and staff members before deciding whether to move first-semester finals before winter break in 2016.

According to district administrators, the 5,225 responses received to the recent survey showed a strong preference to adjusting the start and end dates for the school year to the so-called collegiate calendar.


Among the 2,619 parents who responded, 70 percent prefer the collegiate calendar, according to the results. Likewise, 75 percent of the 1,803 responding students and 73 percent of the 803 responding staff members prefer the collegiate calendar.

Concerns expressed on the written portion of the survey touched on the alignment of a changed calendar with District 211's two feeder elementary districts, the scheduling of family vacations, and the impact on student athletics.

The Illinois High School Athletic Association will continue to dictate the dates of each athletic season regardless of participating districts' differing academic schedules.

As far as alignment with feeder district calendars, Palatine Township Elementary District 15 and Schaumburg Township Elementary District 54 have taken different stances on the proposed change.

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District 15 Superintendent Scott Thompson said staying aligned with District 211 is a high priority, even if it means starting the school year a little earlier in August and ending before Memorial Day.

But District 54 spokeswoman Terri McHugh said her district's calendar committee would not discuss a possible change until the fall of 2015.

Perhaps surprisingly, the survey recorded that only 50 percent of responding parents regarded the alignment of the feeder districts as important or very important. A higher percentage of responding staff members -- 67 percent -- considered such an alignment a priority.

District 211 Superintendent Dan Cates said his administration has identified many reasons justifying changing to a collegiate calendar. Not the least of these was the disruptive effect last week's school closings had on the lead-up to this year's first-semester finals.

"If a person were to design a school calendar from scratch, I cannot imagine that in today's world we would prescribe what has been the traditional practice of having 16 weeks of sustained instructional focus and then taking a two-week break, only later to ask students to take critical final exams two weeks after the interruption," Cates said.

The board meets at 7:30 p.m. at the district's G.A. McElroy Administration Center, 1750 S. Roselle Road in Palatine.

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