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Dist. 203 reconsidering future graduation dates

Naperville Unit District 203 plans to take a closer look at how it schedules graduation ceremonies. (Melissa Jenco/Tribune)

Naperville Unit District 203 plans to take a closer look at how it schedules graduation ceremonies. (Melissa Jenco/Tribune)

Naperville Unit District 203 officials are looking to lay down some guidelines to help them set dates for annual high school graduation ceremonies that won’t conflict with AP testing, spring sports and college graduations.

Dan Bridges, who will take the helm as interim superintendent July 1, said he plans to meet with high school administrators to figure out how best to juggle so many conflicting events.

“With that group what we will be doing is looking at considering other options, all options, regarding when a graduation ceremony makes sense for all,” Bridges said.

Board Vice President Jackie Romberg said she has heard some complaints from parents over having a weekend ceremony next year, a rarity in the district at least in recent years. Bridges did not rule out changing the date, which is currently set for Saturday, May 18, due to conflicts with AP testing dates.

The topic cropped up Monday night as the school board got a look at the proposed calendar for the 2013-14 school year.

Bridges told the board the proposed 2013-14 calendar is “consistent with previous years’ calendars.” School would start on Aug. 21, 2013, and end on June 2, 2014, for those not graduating from high school. Seniors tentatively would walk the stage on Tuesday, May 27.

Board member Susan Crotty said she likes to see the first day of classes pushed back a bit as opposed to the coming year’s Aug. 15 start, which she called the “middle of summer.”

The proposed calendar keeps high school exams before winter break. However, the second semester has nine days more than the first. Romberg expressed some concern over the disparity between the two semesters, but acknowledged there may not be much they can do to fix it other than starting school earlier.

Bridges said the committee putting the calendar together was OK with the gap as long as it didn’t stretch beyond 10 days. A survey found that parents and teachers didn’t consider the gap to be a major problem, he said, though a somewhat larger percentage of students asked for more parity.

In crafting a calendar, the committee is guided by the feedback from that survey as well as state requirements, contractual requirements with teachers and guidance from the DuPage Regional Office of Education, according to Bridges.

“We have to recognize that a calendar as drafted and proposed is not going to please everyone,” he said. “We do the best that we can do build a calendar that is most reflective of what we need to do in the classroom.”

He will bring the calendar back on June 18 for a vote.

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