UPDATE: Calendar Change & Honors Courses Discussed at Board Meeting


People sitting and listening during the Board Meeting deciding about Calendar Changes.

By Alyssa Guzman

To discuss controversial issues affecting Niles West and North students, “an executive summary with recommendations from the administration” was held on Monday, Nov. 26, according to Niles West principal Kaine Osburn.

The calendar change is said to be an issue for parents who have children attending Niles West and children who also attend feeder schools because they would be starting school at different times.

However, district 219 board president Bob Silverman stated that parents who have children in high school and college face the same issue with when school starts.

“I’m leaning towards not making a change, and keeping the calendar the way it is,” Silverman said.

Ruth Klint, a member of the board of education, said is is disturbing to her that this year, in a period of six weeks, there was only one five-day school week.

As a district, promoting education is the top priority for Osburn.

“Part of the experience of change is not merely doing something new, but letting go of things, experiences, feelings that have been in place a long time,” Osburn said. “Letting go is just as hard in order to open ourselves up to change and possibly growth.  I really do think that in the long run a calendar such as is being proposed, or even other more progressive calendars are in the best interest of student’s learning, growth, and health. I understand and respect the responses of the students and families who were present at the Town Hall meeting. ”

There were many suggestions as to how to solve this problem, one of which was made by board member Eileen Valfer, who thought that having school in session on religious holidays such as Eid, Rosh Hashanah, and Good Friday would be effective. The idea is not to take any religious holidays off at all in order to increase instructional time.

“I’d say school should be in session because I’d have to see on paper how many kids and teachers it would affect… [however] teachers should be prohibited from scheduling tests and field trips on those days… I don’t think it’s worth shutting down the whole school,” she said.

Valfer’s suggestion is a controversial one, but Silverman wants to focus on the main goals of the district.

“There may be a way to accomplish what we’ve been trying so long for without losing our values… the goal is, let’s try to get finals done before winter break,” he said.

The calendar change isn’t the only issue. Students have been concerned about the possibility of a change in the honors program.

“This one’s a tough one,” Silverman said. “For some reason, we’re different from everyone else; we have fewer kids taking AP than everyone else. Everyone, everyone, everyone around us has more students taking AP courses. Every single one.

Silverman and the board are concerned because the lack of students taking AP classes is hurting the school profile, the students not taking AP, and even the students taking AP because of the way colleges will view the district’s curriculum.

As of now, the goal is to increase the number of students taking AP courses by 50%. The Board plans on leaving everything in place, but to also encourage students to take at least one AP course.

“We’re not compromising our goal. We want our students to be college ready, and we want our students to take APs,” said Silverman.