Monticello Schools Drop Spring Break From Calendar

By Bill Hudson, WCCO-TV

MONTICELLO, Minn. (WCCO) — For years, the traditional week-long spring break for Minnesota’s public schools has given families and students a chance to shed their winter woes. For some, it’s spent catching up on things around home, but for others it’s an opportunity to book a warm weather getaway.

“Orlando, Disney World is always a popular place for the families,” explained travel agent Sharee Kampa.

At Travel Leaders, the Monticello agency where she works, Kampa is busy booking spring getaways. But come next year, many customers with school aged children will be taking rain checks. The Monticello School District has recently decided to abandon the 2011-12 spring break.

“The school calendar is one of the most challenging because everybody has an opinion,” said Monticello School Superintendent Jim Johnson.

Johnson said late in the year, studies have shown that older students tend to disengage from learning. He believes it is more important to end the year in May than to take a break in March.

“By getting done early, by getting done next year June 1, we think we’re doing a better job preparing our kids for testing and keeping them engaged as best as we possibly can,” said Johnson.

Parents WCCO spoke with tend to agree, saying that many families can’t afford a spring vacation and endure added hardships when forced to find day care for younger kids.

“I would say I’d rather do without (spring break) and get out earlier,” said parent Michele Hertwig.

She’s among the many that don’t have a problem with skipping the traditional break.

“I think it’s best for the kids to just keep on with the schooling and wait until the end of the school year and take the break and get out earlier so they have a longer summer,” said parent Dawn Elliott.

But for those families who need the break from the winter blues, Kampa said there will always be a way to book a quick getaway.

“I think what they’re going to do is they’re going to use the long weekends with Martin Luther King, President’s Day, those kind of things so they take a Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday … miss a few days of school,” said Kampa.

School administrators say they don’t have a lot of options. A recent change in state law prevents public school districts from starting the school year prior to the Labor Day holiday.

To get in the required number of student contact days, districts have to shorten their winter and spring breaks or be willing to extend the school year into June.

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