Board Approves Religiously Neutral Calendar for 2017-18 School Year


By Grace Geraghty

The District 219 School Board approved a religiously neutral calendar for the 2017-2018 school year at the Board of Education meeting this past Tuesday, Sept. 27.

The new calendar, which will be implemented for the next school year, does not observe religious holidays like Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Eid al-Fitr, or Good Friday. Many District 219 feeder districts, including districts 72 (Fairview), 74 (Lincoln Hall), and 73.5 (Skokie), already operate with calendars that don’t observe a plethora of religious holidays.

The new calendar has elicited a positive response from district leadership.

“This calendar has been shared with Union leadership, D219 administrators, and the Township superintendents,” assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction Anne Roloff wrote in an email following the board’s decision. “All groups have responded favorably to this calendar.  It follows the calendar guidelines established by the Township superintendent group.”

However, students had mixed reactions in response to the decision.

“Personally, it’s not they biggest deal to me because I’m not super religious and I don’t go to services, but I do spend time with my family and celebrate with dinner or something,” junior Julia Karpilovsky, who is Jewish, said. “But I do think that we should respect each religion because we have a pretty big Jewish and Muslim population; therefore, each should be respected and have the day off rather than taking those days off away.”

“I like having a lot of holidays off because it keeps me from having to take off and fall behind for ones that I celebrate,” junior Julia Gladysz, who practices Catholicism, said. “The ones I don’t celebrate are just a nice day off.”

Many teachers are able to see both sides of the argument.

“Being religious myself, I can understand the desire to want to have a day off to take part in religious practices,” paraprofessional Vasillios Papaioannou said. “But on the other hand, I also understand the school stance not to close down school for the majority of those who do not practice a given religion for each of those days off.”

Early in the school year, district administrators will send teachers a list of dates, asking that assignments, tests, and projects are not due on these days, when a large part of the student population may be missing due to religious observances.

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