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District 161 OKs calendar for 2017-2018 school year

The calendar for the 2017-2018 school year was unanimously approved Monday by the Flossmoor District 161 Board of Education. The calendar has only minor changes from recent years and is being coordinated with neighboring school districts. However, the board may later discuss how one of the holidays is labeled.
The first day of school for students will be Thursday, Aug. 24. Winter break will begin as of Friday, Dec. 22 with students returning on Tuesday, Jan. 9. Eighth grade graduation is slated for Monday, June 4 and the last day of classes will be on Wednesday, June 6.
“We aligned our calendar with the other districts and then backed-up from there,” said Michael Popp, interim superintendent. “We touched base with Homewood (District 153) and Homewood-Flossmoor high school and collaborated with them as we have in the past.”
Popp added that scheduling of professional development days was also aligned with the other local districts to create opportunities for shared programs.
Board member Merle Huckabee said some parents have asked her why school begins in the middle of the week.
Popp explained that starting the first week with teacher institute days before classes begin mid-week allows for families to have “a whole last week of summer vacation before school begins.” 
Popp pointed out that there are three institute days scheduled for Monday, Aug 21 through Wednesday, Aug. 23, which is one more such institute day at the beginning of the new calendar compared to recent years. An institute day usually scheduled later in the year was moved to make the change.
Popp explained that the three institute days at the start of the calendar allows the scheduling of staff development activities and helps teachers prepare for the new school year. He also said a half-day school improvement day on Friday, Sept. 1 will allow the staffs in each building to make any necessary adjustments after the first several days of the new school year.
“This is a very traditional calendar, it’s like many other schools I’ve seen,” Popp added.
Traditionally, the federal holiday of Columbus Day is observed on the second Monday of October. The holiday on Monday, Oct. 9, when no classes will be held, is again part of the district’s 2017-2018 calendar.
Before voting to approve the calendar, board member Lisa Harrell asked of the Columbus Day holiday, “Is this an appropriate term? Can we name this something else?”
According to history.com, “Today, Columbus has a mixed legacy — he is remembered as a daring and path-breaking explorer who transformed the New World, yet his actions also unleashed changes that would eventually devastate the native populations he and his fellow explorers encountered.”
“There’s a lot of information about this to look at as a district,” Harrell said. “When we know better, we do better. This is worth discussion.”
Board President Stephen Paredes said, “We can have this discussion.”

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