District 86 gets input on changing school calendar
Hinsdale South High School social studies department chair Matt Guritz teaches a humanities class to juniors. Hinsdale South and Central could soon be going to first-semester finals prior to winter break. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 27, 2012 8:08AM
A handful of parents, teachers and Hinsdale HIgh School District 86 Board members turned out last week to share their ideas about the possibility of changing the school calendar.
Hinsdale South Principal Brian Waterman led the open forum, which welcomed ideas about the pros and cons of having final exams prior to winter break, beginning with 2013-14. The plan presented April 17 would have students coming back to school Aug. 14 in order to complete the first semester prior to the holiday break.
“The best weather of the year is the end of August and the beginning of September,” said South parent Mark Sullivan.
Other parents echoed Sullivan’s concern over spending the warmest weeks of the year in the classroom.
Waterman said the plan is being considered as a way to give high school students an experience that more closely resembles college.
“Trying to get final exams before winter break fits with that idea,” he said.
However, Merle Erickson of Hinsdale, a professor at University of Chicago, said most universities start their semester later in August or even in September.
Erickson said such a change would affect families with younger students, especially if feeder districts did not adopt the early start date.
“The impact on the feeder district is real,” he said, as many families rely on older children for childcare through the summer.
Families also plan vacations for August, another parent said.
Claudia Manley of Darien said an early August start could impact some teens’ summer jobs, while other parents said the new schedule could cause a loss of practice time for fall athletic teams, which rely on those first weeks of August to get ready for the season.
Waterman said the thoughts expressed at the forum will be considered when he meets with Superintendent Nicholas Wahl and Hinsdale Central Principal Michael McGrory to further discuss the possible schedule change.