The Duneland School
Board is in support of starting the school year earlier with the tradeoff of
students and teachers not having to worry about final exams over winter
At its meeting
Monday, the board voted unanimously to set its 2017-18 school calendar with
students starting on Monday, Aug. 14. The first semester will then end on
Friday, Dec. 22 and let out for winter break, ending the tradition of coming
back to take exams in January.
Superintendent David Pruis said the seven school corporations that make up
the Porter County Education Services met earlier on Monday to discuss school
calendars. Duneland is one of the school corporations that have explored the
benefits, and drawbacks, of adopting a “balanced” calendar that would begin
classes at the beginning of August and have longer breaks.
While that type of
balanced calendar probably won’t be fully implemented for a few years yet,
board member Mike Trout said, this seems like a “tiny step” toward that.
Valparaiso Schools and East Porter Schools have also shown interest in the
proposed calendar. Schools in the Porter County Education Services routinely
keep the same calendars because they all share satellite programs for
special education and vocational training.
earlier than usual for the current school year, with students starting on
Wednesday, Aug. 17. The last day of first semester is Friday, Jan. 13 with
Monday, Jan. 16 as a grading day for teachers.
Other dates in the
2017-18 calendar are Friday, Oct. 27 for Fall Break, no school Friday, Nov.
3, for the week of parent/teacher conferences, Nov. 22-24, for Thanksgiving
break, and Wednesday, March 27-31 for spring break. Feb. 16 and April 20 are
marked for snow make-up days and Friday, May 25 as the last day of classes,
unless there are any more snow make-up days. The 2018 Chesterton High School
commencement will be Thursday, May 31.
In 2018, the second
semester would start on Monday, Jan. 8, but the grading/recording date would
be Jan. 15 so students would have Martin Luther King Jr. Day off, Pruis
said. That point drew the most discussion by the board and members of the
Duneland Teachers Association.
makes no sense,” CHS History teacher and DTA supporter Bob DeRuntz, said
from the audience Monday. He said it struck him as odd to have teachers jump
into the second semester while still trying to wrap up first semester
Pruis said it is
optional to have the grading day on Jan. 8 instead. “If it matters to the
DTA, we should do it the way you guys want.”
Board member John
Marshall said he imagines there are many teachers who would prefer Jan. 15
as the grading day so they don’t have to worry at all about grades until
after the holiday.
DeRuntz said there
are pros and cons to the options but said he understood the point made by
Trout said the
board can try out having the grading day be Jan. 15 and change it the
following year if there are problems.
Brandon Kroft said there will probably be many families gone for Martin
Luther King Jr. Day, as many people have the day off to observe the holiday.
The board then
voted 5-0 to accept the calendar.
Intermediate American Sign Language Club (ALS), which was started last
school year by educational interpreter Mary Skube and Duneland teachers
Courtney Kozinski and Becky Holmen, made a presentation to the board during
Kozinski led the
presentation with a PowerPoint and videos of WIS students explaining why
they chose to be a part of the club, what they hope to accomplish and what
their favorite sign is. Students said they aspire to speak with friends and
family who are hearing impaired and to teach others to sign so they can
communicate with the deaf.
ASL is the third
most used language behind English and Spanish, Kozinski said, and is growing
in usage. The WIS club has 50 members in fifth and sixth grade, some of whom
attended the meeting.
There are six
hearing impaired students at the school and the club has helped build
friendships and make those students feel more included, Kozinski said.
One parent said it
has “worked a miracle” for her daughter and boosted her self esteem.
acceptance. She comes home happy every day,” said the parent. “Thank you
guys and I hope you will be able to continue the ASL club for other kids.”
Kozinski said the
club is planning to host another event after the success of the ASL Game
Night last spring co-sponsored by the Purdue Northwest ASL Club.