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.

Comments (26)
  1. laura says:

    My children attend Monticello schools and they have over a dozen early release days each year. During those days, teachers show movies in class or have activity days. Large percentages of students skip the days entirely because very little learning takes place. With the addition of no Spring Break, I assume kids will be missing even more school now to participate in family vacations. Monticello’s final day of school for the 2011-2012 school year is May 31st. Teachers will have to spend numerous days re-teaching kids when they return in the fall after such a long summer break. This is a step bckwards for education in Monticello.

    1. M says:

      You think students will forget more by the next year with 1 or 2 extra weeks of summer vacation? That is funny and I think that extra time of is pretty insignificant.

      1. laura says:

        If you were a teacher you would realize how significant it is. We have to do a bit of re-teaching even after a long weekend. A longer summer will be a HUGE difference!!!

        1. Harmon is questioning parents not schools says:

          If parents held their kids accountable at home and pushed them a bit instead of letting them run wild I suspect teachers would have an easier time. Education will just continue to go backwards w/o strong parental support at home. Just not there

        2. Monti Res says:

          It seems a bit unconceivable to me that a long weekend causes such an issue… What do you do on the early release dates? Doesn’t that disrupt the educational flow (at least using your perspective…) There are ways around any roadblock – homework, assignments, and if parents are concerned, even Summer school. Most teachers I know, understand that you may have to review an topic again, but this is part of the educational process. It sounds to me like maybe this teacher has a “burn-out” issue and is perhaps more concerned about losing days off than about really teaching…

    2. Monti Res says:

      I agree that the early release days are unproductive and more of an inconvenience for parents. I don’t know that losing the Spring break will have much of an inpact in learning or progress. Some parents will take their kids out for Spring break, but those occassions can be considered educational as well. I would imagine that those folks providing daycare will be upset that they will have one less week off and will not be able to close their center…

    3. CArla says:

      Sounds like you need to question the principal.. On Early release days we pack a days learning into a 4 hour day! Who shows movies?

  2. jeff says:

    Monticello school administrators need an education in how the Labor Day law works. Many school districts, St. Louis Park, Edina, etc. lobbied to start before Labor Day. Monticello could do the same.

  3. Casey Lee Erickson says:

    I am glad I graduated from MHS already.

  4. Marie says:

    Alexandria school are doing the same thing next year no spring break.

  5. Dallas says:

    I wish our school district would drop spring break. There is no sense to have school into the second week of June. As far as Laura’s concern about re-teaching, you have to re-teach after spring break too. I also struggle with the teacher in-service days. If they are valuable, I’m not sure what the teachers do. However, I know quite a few teachers who use this as vacation days to go on trips with their families.

    1. Paul Solinger says:

      In most districts, teacher in-service days are written into the contract and are required work days, just like any other. Teachers generally should not be using them to take vacations.

      1. Monti Res says:

        Funny. Monticello had early release on Friday and my son saw several of his teachers at the new Pizza Ranch… so much for an in-service…

        1. s says:

          Teachers need to eat too!

  6. sandy says:

    Where did basic instituions such as Spring Break go, in Minnesota? We are now cutting Spring Break, camp grounds, etc. Who exactly makes these calls, where did America go? What are we coming to? A bunch of cheap as@@ politicians running the show and deciding they need to cut any and everything but their salaries. Unbeleivable

    1. Dallas says:

      I agree, closing state parks is a drag. However, we should lump all these issues into one problem. What makes spring break an institution?

  7. Mandy says:

    Many schools already go without spring break, so this idea is nothing new. Many parents take their kids on trips throughout the school year anyway, not just sticking to spring break time, so does it really matter that much whether there is a designated break time? How many families actually use the break to go away? If parents want to take their kids out of school and go somewhere, they are going to go anyway.

    Teacher in-service days are usually determined by administration, and they do sometimes allow teachers to go away with their own families without missing valuable teaching days with students. Districts do still have to approve those days, though. Many people seem to think that teachers should use their summer breaks to go on vacation, but other people (many, not all) aren’t limited to a specific time they are to go on vacation. Parents are allowed to take their kids to Mexico, Florida, on cruises, etc. during our cold winter months; shouldn’t teachers be allowed the same privilege, as long as they have personal days for exactly that purpose: personal use?

  8. Nancy Aleshire says:

    Why do so many schools celebrate their Easter breaks so apart from the actual Easter holiday? I am well aware that Easter can fall anytime from late March to anywhere in April. Please school districts celebrate Easter vacation close to the actual holiday. I am not saying students have to get one full week off, but they certainly have to have off Good Friday and a few days prior to. They do not need as much time off as they get during Christmas vacation.

  9. BRI says:

    Monticello has applied many times to start before labor day.
    We are always shot down by the MN state fair board, and resort owners, and the folks who lobby for them. We would love to start earlier.

  10. J says:

    I must disagree with the logical assumptions of Mr. Johnson in the regards of spring break. As a student of Monticello high school, I must argue that the fact of older students “disengaging” from school later in the year cannot be alleviated by rushing through school. I believe this to an erroneous flaw and will actually contradictory to Mr. Johnson’s proposal that skipping spring break will keep students engaged until the end of the year. In fact, 3-4 months of solid school with limited breaks will deter students even more rather than a week off to recharge and hit the books, as the saying goes.

  11. Susan says:

    Older students disengage? I will believe this when colleges and universities cancel their spring breaks! Students, parents and teachers need that week off to regroup after along winter!

    1. Gants L says:

      Inclined to agree with you Susan – kids seem to hit a wall when it comes to retaining and learning about this time. I know I was a PITA to all when I was in in school and just didn’t care about now.
      I don’t think in general the kids needs as many days off over the year however and starting before September seems crazy as it’s so dang hot in the buildings. I cannot see a thing wrong with going thru the first week in June. Maybe I am crazy on that??

  12. L says:

    I am the parent of 2 children in the Monticello School District and I would like to have been notified of this decision BEFORE hearing about it on the news!! I pay taxes to the district schools, have children attending and had no idea. Wow.

  13. R says:

    L, The calendar for next year has been on the school website for a couple weeks now and was in the Monti times. Did you really think you and the parents of all 4,000 students would get a personal phone call? Monticello has been off and on with spring breaks over the years anyway, so not sure why this was news worthy.

    1. Ann says:

      R, Not everyone pays and subscribes to the paper. Don’t think anyone expected a phone call however schools do send home letters at least monthly explaining what’s happening in the school and no where was it in any of these nor is it on the district website. And as far as calander for next year…. this is what the school board monthly meeting minutes from March 7th say: “the 2011-2012 School District Calendar will be brought to the next school board meeting,” which means it has not been finalized yet. But thank you for your imput.

  14. S says:

    What is the big deal over a spring break? How many businesses do you know plan for a spring break in their calendar year?

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