No more spring break? State law changing school calendars - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

No more spring break? State law changing school calendars

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

A new state requirement could mean changes to family travel plans.

Schools must meet a minimum of either 180 days or 1,080 hours per school year, and districts statewide are revising calendars because of it.

Public school students in Dubuque will no longer have a week-long spring break, starting next year.

The Dubuque school board voted at its Monday night meeting to approve a 2014-15 school calendar that has that change and more. It provides for 1,100 instructional hours in the school year.

The new state requirement goes into effect July 1.

Picking up her kindergartener Addison from Eisenhower Elementary School, Dubuque mom Kelly Rett said not everybody loves the lack of spring break next year.

"Some parents will be upset about it," Rett said, though added, "Some parents will think it's a good idea to be able to get the summer here faster, especially with all the snow days we have."

Indeed, by eliminating a week of spring break, the Dubuque Community School District managed to shave three days off the end of the school year.

"We were very conscious that any change in the calendar has an impact," Dubuque school board president Mike Donohue said.

A week of spring break is not a long-standing tradition for Dubuque students. One has been in the school calendar for only the past three years.

"What we have found anecdotally is that families take vacations when families want to take vacations," Donohue said. "They're going to pull their kids out. If they make that decision, that's their decision to do that."

Rett, however, who also has a fourth grader, said it's harder for parents to pull their kids from school as the children get older.

"The kids might have more homework and more of a workload to kind of make up," Rett said.

By approving the calendar, the school board got rid of the weekly early-release on Wednesdays and added a weekly one-hour late start on Fridays, for teacher development. While that could create extra childcare costs for some parents, Donohue said the calendar change is not costing taxpayers.

The new calendar also provides for more than 30 hours of teacher development throughout the school year and also puts the end of the high school semester before winter break.

The district received more than 1,000 comments on the proposed calendar in the weeks leading up to Monday night's approval.

KWWL checked in with other area school districts.

Waterloo schools' spokesperson Tara Thomas said a "calendar committee is working with board members and the teachers’ union to plan our district schedule for the next year."

The Iowa City school board voted on a 2014-15 school calendar at its Tuesday night meeting. Superintendent Steve Murley said the district created a calendar that could adhere to both the 180-days and 1,080-hours requirements.

School district officials from Cedar Falls and Cedar Rapids did not immediately return KWWL's calls.

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