2011 Spring Break dates change

Rachel Schowalter | Staff Writer

Spring Break for the Mason City School District will be moved to the last week of March for the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 school years. This earlier date may change Mason families’ travel plans because of colder weather.

According to Debbie Delp, President of the Mason City School Board of Education, the decision to move Spring Break to the last week of March was prompted by the Ohio Achievement Tests that will be given in April of 2011.

“[The Ohio Achievement Tests] always fall during the week of April 24,” Delp said. “In [2011], April 24 is Easter Sunday. The week after [Easter Sunday] would have been our break week. To accommodate the testing, we’d have to come up with an alternative date, which would have been immediately following Spring Break.”

Delp said most students would not be in “test mode” after a week off and that would be reflected by their test scores.

“I don’t think testing [during the] week after a break would be reflective of [the students’] skills, abilities and accomplishments,” Delp said. “I find after a week off, I might not even remember my password on my computer. It takes a day or two.”

According to Delp, Spring Break for the 2010-2011 school year will start March 28 and last until April 1. For the 2011-2012 school year, break will begin March 26 and end March 30. During both years, school will not be in session on Good Friday nor the Monday following Easter Sunday.

“We’ve always tried to have that Monday after Easter off for people who do travel out of town for that holiday and would be traveling back home that Monday,” Delp said. “We figured that was a good compromise for the people who do celebrate Easter and want to spend it with family, while we are changing that week off to accommodate testing.”

Although Delp said she realizes the earlier break might allow for colder weather for southbound travelers, it shouldn’t be a deterrent to enjoying Spring Break.

“If you could predict the weather with any kind of success, I would be really impressed,” Delp said. “I’ve been down to Florida in the winter and we were in sweatshirts; other times, kids were in the pools. I don’t think there’s ever a guarantee of the weather. Frankly, Florida is a fun place to go [despite the weather].”

Delp said that if other school districts keep their usual Spring Break dates for the coming years, Mason’s earlier break might allow students more room in popular vacation spots and less traffic during traveling.

“I can’t tell you that I know what the trend is in terms of other schools going in the same direction,” Delp said. “But if [they don’t], it could be a week that’s [Mason families’] to be there. It won’t be too crowded [at Spring Break destinations] and there will be less traffic from place to place.”

According to Delp, the two-year change is still considered temporary and will be reexamined afterwards to evaluate its success. Delp said the district’s calendar committee, a group of Mason residents and faculty responsible for creating the school calendars three years in advance, had to approve the change before bringing it to the board. After the two years, calendar committee will evaluate the change’s effectiveness. It will determine if Mason families want a fixed date for Spring Break or one that is connected to the varying Easter holiday.

“Certainly we will be looking for a lot of input in terms of how it’s impacted people and whether it’s been a good change or not,” Delp said. “We do want to hear from [our students and families]; we do want to know if it is something they can see continuing or whether they prefer that kind of floating Spring Break schedule.”

According to Delp, the school board decided to make the change temporary in order to have the opportunity to change it after two years.

“We felt that just by making it a two-year decision, we have the opportunity to change it again once testing may not be a factor,” Delp said. “We weren’t committing ourselves forever.”

When making this decision, Delp said the school board knew that Mason families usually associate Spring Break and Easter with one another and would be surprised to see the calendar changes.

“We were concerned that change isn’t always received well, that people may have already made plans and that tradition becomes something that people want and expect,” Delp said. “But ultimately, we have to the make the decision that is going to be the best for our students.”