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U46 proposes earlier school year, class on Veterans Day

Updated: March 2, 2013 6:38AM

ELGIN — School District U46 is proposing dramatic changes to its calendar for the coming school year that would push the start of classes to mid-August and the end of the first semester, before students dismiss for winter recess.

Those changes also would keep students in the state’s second-largest school district in class on Veterans Day.

More than a half-dozen representatives of Bartlett VFW Post 11018, Elgin VFW Post 1307 and the Elgin American Legion Post 57 expressed their support for that proposal during a public hearing about waiving the holiday Monday at the U46 Board of Education meeting.

“If we forget about our history we’re going to live it again. We’ve got to get it out,” said Glen Schlechter, post commander of the Bartlett VFW.

The proposed changes would make the calendar in the Elgin school district similar to the one in neighboring Community Unit School District 300, which pushed up its start dates two years ago and has classes on Veterans Day.

The first day of classes this school year in U46 was Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012. The proposed calendar would push that up next school year by more than a week, to Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013, and end the first semester on Dec. 20, according to information in the board meeting packet.

The District 300 Board of Education already has approved its calendar for the coming school year. That is similar as the calendar U46 has proposed, starting Aug. 14 and dismissing for winter recess Dec. 20.

The Carpentersville-area district had been the butt of a joke on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” in 2009, when its school board first decided to have class on Veterans Day. But both Central Community School District 301 and Huntley Consolidated School District 158 also have class on the holiday.

And Trish Dieringer of the American Legion said while U46 students now get the day off on Veterans Day, it is “a day off without meaning.” Dieringer never sees students at remembrance ceremonies in Elgin, she said.

“If that’s the case, they probably need to be in school so we can bring the program to them,” she said.

Still, one Wayne Elementary School parent said she worried the school day could send the message to students Veterans Day is not as important as other holidays, such as the holiday earlier this month remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.

And two teachers said during public comments while they supported an earlier start date, many of their colleagues already have made plans for this summer.

Jodie Bradney of Sunnydale Elementary School in Streamwood said it seemed like the district had made the change to the proposed calendar is a “sneaky, underhanded way.”

The U46 Board of Education had not yet discussed that proposed calendar and the feedback as of press time Monday. It is set to vote on the calendar at its meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 4, at the U46 Educational Services Center, 355 E. Chicago St.

District 300 also was set to discuss its proposed 2014-15 school calendar Monday night, as well as changes to the current school year.

Those changes to the current school year would end the year on Wednesday, May 22, 2013, to make up for the one-day teachers strike in early December. The proposed 2014-15 school calendar would start the year on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014.

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