Trouble With Spring Breaks: UWSP, Point Schools Do Not Align

Spring Break is supposed to be a chance to relax and enjoy time with friends and family, but the spring breaks of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and Stevens Point area public schools do not align this year, making it difficult for professors and faculty members to make plans.

“We determine our calendar before the local schools, so we rely on their ability to match our calendar and we try to inform them of the dates so they can coordinate if they are able,” said Greg Summers, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs.

Kym Buchanan, an associate professor of education, has two daughters who both attend Washington Elementary.

“My wife and I both work for the university,” Buchanan said. “We won’t be home when our daughters are on vacation, so we have to arrange and pay for childcare. We also miss out on the opportunity to spend family time together.”

This year, Washington Elementary, as well as other public schools, have spring break from March 24-28 while the university’s spring break is the week prior.

When UWSP and Stevens Point public schools have separate breaks, issues arise for planning a family vacation or spending time at home.

“We highly value vacation,” Buchanan said. “We prioritize spending family time together, such as watching movies, playing games, and visiting the library. We also use vacation to catch up on chores, such as sorting out clothes that are too small.”

This year is especially problematic for Buchanan and his family because his wife is now working full-time.

“In the past, when the calendars haven’t matched, my wife could often watch our daughters. However, my wife now works full-time for various reasons,” Buchanan said.

Terry Aittama, a senior lecturer of health promotion and human development, is also having problems making plans with her daughter, who is a senior at Stevens Point Area Senior High.

“It’s affecting spring break vacation plans, especially since my older daughter, who attends Carthage College, has the same spring break as the Stevens Point public schools and I was very excited at the thought that all three of us would be able to get together,” Aittama said. “I either miss work or my daughter misses school.  Neither option is ideal.”

Stevens Point is a family-oriented community, Buchanan said, and he thinks it would be beneficial if vacation times all coincided.

“Many of my colleagues are parents with school-age children. I imagine this situation impacts many of their families like it does mine, such as paying for childcare,” Buchanan said.

Aittama believes the same and said, “many people look forward to getting away in the spring and UWSP employees with children in public schools cannot make plans when breaks are separate without compromising work or school attendance.”

Next year, spring break should not cause families any difficulties or problems.

“When we developed the 2014-15 school calendar we made sure that the district spring break lined up with the UWSP spring break,” said Bill Carlson, the lead elementary principal for the public school district.

Carlson thinks that it would be beneficial as well if the two spring breaks lined up, as long as it would not have any negative impact on student learning.

“The educational needs of the students need to come first,” Carlson said. “For next year, we checked the university schedule when we developed our school calendar and matched up spring break dates.  That communication needs to continue.”

Rachel Pukall

rpuka198@uwsp.edu

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