EAGLE COUNTY - Spring break? Try spring breaks.
Next school year, students in the Eagle County School District will have two vacays instead of the one.
Traditionally, spring break has fallen at the end of March, during one of the busiest weeks of the ski season.
But the district split it up for the 2010-11 school year, pushing one of the vacations back to April, after ski season ends.
"It's a calendar that, hopefully, is more helpful for families that are involved with or centered around ski mountain operations," said Wade Hill, chairman of the district's calendar committee.
He hopes the calendar - which breaks from Monday, April 18, to Friday, April 22 - will be more convenient for parents who work for local restaurants or hold jobs on the mountain.
"What this does is move the spring break outside of the busiest week of the year, which is traditionally the spring break week, and hopefully allow our families to participate in and enjoy a later spring break after the mountain is closed," Hill said.
From an academic standpoint, the later spring break has pluses as well, he said. Typically, the spring break fell in the middle of standardized testing, Hill said.
The state outlines a five-week window for schools to conduct Colorado Student Assessment Program testing, but the old spring break took up a week of that time, he said.
With the new schedule, the spring vacation will fall after CSAP testing, giving teachers another week during the testing block to conduct testing, Hill said.
While fitting testing into four weeks hasn't been a big problem in the past, the extra week will give schools more time help students who are absent catch up on make-up tests, Hill said.
At the same time, the calendar adds a break in February, between the two sports seasons for student athletes, he said. Previously, the March break fell in the middle of third season for sports like wrestling and baseball, making it tough for families to leave town for vacation, Hill said.
"As a high school kid myself, playing baseball, we didn't go on break because I would miss practices," he recalled.
The new break - Monday, Feb. 21 to Friday, Feb. 25 - will include Presidents' Day, which is usually a day off. Along with being more convenient for student athletes, Hill said parents can likely get cheaper airfare because the vacation falls outside the height of spring break season.
With the extra break, the school year will end a few days later - June 8 compared to June 3 for most schools this year, he said. Hill sees that as a good tradeoff, since June weather is often spotty.
This school year's spring break is Monday, March 22 to Friday, March 26.
The school board this week approved the calendar for the next three school years. Seventy-four percent of the 838 people who took a survey voted in favor of the changes, Hill said. The survey included phone interviews of parents, along with a Web poll of students, parents and staff, he said.
Eagle-Vail parent David Roetzel said he has no qualms with the spring break, but wonders how the dates will match up with private school spring breaks. His son goes to Battle Mountain High School but his daughters go to St. Clare of Assisi Catholic School.
"I guess that would be my one concern: Does it line up with other schools?" he said.
Edward parent Carrie Tedstrom, who has two children at Battle Mountain High School, said the district tried moving the spring break into April when she was on the school board a few years ago.
"It was a lot easier to get hotels and flights and stuff like that when we went on vacation," she said.
As a part-time ski instructor on Beaver Creek, she likes the idea of holding the break after the ski season, instead of during one of the busiest weeks in March.
"It's always a little daunting to ask for that off," she said.
Staff writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.