In an email to the D109 community, Lubelfeld acknowledged that the district has heard from families who are unhappy with the changes. "We respect the personal calendars of all of our families, though we know that, at this point, we can’t make decisions that will mesh will every family’s needs," he wrote.
He goes on to explain why a combination of state code and other planned events limits the district's options for making up the days lost to bad weather.
Below is the email from Superintendent Michael Lubelfeld in full:
Dear District 109 Staff, Parents and Community Members,
I wanted to take the opportunity to provide you with more information about the impact of the recent school closings due to the extreme temperatures on the remainder of the 2013-2014 District 109 calendar.
The 2013-2014 school calendar was approved by the Board of Education, and submitted to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) in December 2012 - more than a year ago (with an amendment in April 2013). That calendar (shown here) includes five emergency days, from June 6-12; all Illinois school districts are required to build five emergency days into the approved public school calendar.
On top of the state required five emergency days, in DPS109, we choose to build an extra day into the calendar so that if we cancel school once we don’t have to use an emergency day to meet our state-mandated minimum number of student attendance days. Thus far, we have been out of school for four days, so we are required to make up three of them.
We have received feedback from some community members, and we take all input very seriously. We respect the personal calendars of all of our families, though we know that, at this point, we can’t make decisions that will mesh will every family’s needs.
Here are some important points related to this topic:
We won’t comment on what other districts decide and are able to do with their calendars. We will only speak to the rules that govern District 109 and the decisions we make in compliance with those rules. Other districts, including District 113, are separate government bodies, and have different calendars, different board policies, different employment/collective bargaining agreements and different rules and requirements.
Any changes to a public school calendar that are approved by a local Board of Education must be then submitted for approval to the ISBE and the Lake County Regional Office of Education (ROE); in District 109, changes also must be approved by the Board of Education.
We are choosing not to ask our Board to amend the calendar to make February 17, 18 or March 3 days of student attendance this year. There are several reasons:
Illinois School Code requires that to waive a state holiday districts must hold a public hearing and follow a prescribed set of rules. We do not feel that this would give our community and families sufficient notice to plan since they have had the approved calendar in place for more than a year.
February 18 is a teacher inservice day that has been planned for many months. It is considered a “big event”. At this conference staff not only are professionally learning, but they are also leading the vast majority of the 60 sessions being offered. We also do not feel that this would be fair to our community and families because any potential decisions that may occur at the February 10 Board Meeting would only provide one week’s notice.
People have asked about the April 17 and May 23 currently scheduled half-day inservice days. Per the School Code, these days actually count as full days of student attendance (105 ILCS 5/18-8.05(f)(2)(d)). Therefore it would be of no benefit to our calendar dilemma to make these two days on the calendar full days of student attendance.
While we do have scheduled days off in April and May, we prefer not to make Good Friday (April 18) or Memorial Day (May 26) days of student attendance this year.
Please be assured that we are giving very careful consideration to our options and will communicate any decisions in a timely and thorough manner.
In the meantime, if you’re so inclined, you can read about the requirements about the school calendar set forth by Illinois School Code, outlined in this document from the Illinois State Board of Education.
Please also remember that winter is not over and while we are loathe to close school again - conditions may require us to and therefore all of this energy over two days would be moot. Thank you, again, for your interest, communications, questions, and support.
Dr. Michael Lubelfeld
Superintendent of Schools