District 86 holds off on earlier start to school year
Updated: June 11, 2012 9:06AM
Feeling the need for more information from all members of their community, the Hinsdale High School District 86 Board will work on surveying parents, students, faculty and staff before deciding on a new academic calendar.
Superintendent Nicholas Wahl said potentially moving first semester final exams before winter break has been talked about ever since he joined the district seven years ago.
New air conditioning being installed this summer at Hinsdale Central and South high schools could allow an earlier start to the school year which could move the final exam dates.
The board has discussed the new potential school calendar at its March 19 and April 9 meetings and have been holding discussions with parents through meetings, emails and phone calls.
District 86 has 181 school days and has two even semesters. In order to have final exams prior to winter break the board would have to start the school year earlier, possibly in mid-August.
Wahl said at a recent PTO event parents warmly received the idea of finals prior to break, but said they didn’t like it at expense of August family or vacation time. Wahl said the district prefers to keep each semester as close to even as possible.
“We have no interest in compromising that,” Wahl said. “Those days won’t go away. We don’t want first semester to have 11 fewer days than second.”
Board members said they have received negative emails about the earlier start, but said reception to the proposal seems to vary.
“One day it’s all pro the next day it’s all con,” board member Jennifer Planson said. “In order to get a true representation is to go through with that survey. We need to put dates in (the calendar) so people can get an idea of what we’re talking about.”
Board member Kay Gallo suggested hiring an independent company to survey the entire District 86 community to get a true assessment of what people want.
The board had hoped to move finals up beginning with the 2013-14 school year at the earliest, but with time winding down discussed putting it off one more year.
“We should put real dates on the proposals we’re looking at,” board member Richard Skoda said. “I think there should be three options; the way it is now, an earlier start and an even later start.”
Wahl said he would begin discussion with some companies and bring back suggestions and cost estimates to the board regarding surveys. Wahl indicated he will remain in communication with District 86’s seven feeder districts and their parents.
“This gives everybody some breathing room and allows us to quantify the interest,” Wahl said. “It’s really important to get our feeder district parents too. We can take a look at this and gather some really good information.”