Parents in area doing a spring-break shuffle School districts set variety of vacations, jumbling family plans

March 31, 1997|By Marcia Myers | Marcia Myers,SUN STAFF

Maggie Kennedy used to pack up her family for the Easter break and head for a leisurely visit with her parents in North Carolina. Yesterday, after church and brunch, they could be found at home in Timonium.

The Baltimore County schools' midweek-to-midweek break this year conspired against more than a few families looking for a little uncomplicated time off.

For some parents, it meant negotiating time off with employers who like to give vacation time by the calendar week only. For others, it meant coordinating child care across two weeks instead of one.

Some simply pulled their children out of school the extra days.

"Certainly in this day and age, when many parents are both employed, it's not the most advantageous thing," said Kennedy, executive vice president of the county's PTA Council.

"Parents and children want a spring break. But the biggest point is it is just disruptive to the children. The absentee rate I'm sure is going to be higher this week than would be the average," she said.

Students have been out of class since Thursday and are to return Wednesday.

By contrast, students in Baltimore City and Howard County began spring break late last week but will remain off all this week. The break in Anne Arundel County is little more than a long weekend: Thursday through today.

"We came to the consensus last year that we felt the break was disruptive to the instruction program," Kennedy said. In 152 letters mailed last week to PTAs countywide, the council is soliciting ideas to improve the calendar.

State law requires schools to schedule days off on Good Friday and the day after Easter, said Donald I. Mohler, spokesman for the Baltimore County school system.

"No matter how we schedule it, the vacation will run over two weeks," he said. It also varies each year depending on how many hTC snow days are taken. The bottom line is that schools must schedule 180 days of classes each year.

Whatever difficulty that presents vacationers, "it's not an issue we hear a lot about," he said. More complaints are registered about the impact on schoolwork.

"Maybe it's time for them to take a look at this again," said Mary Pat Kahle, who has two children in the county schools. "It's really bad when a week of instruction is interrupted."

This year, Deborah Nelson's customary day trips over spring break with her husband and children were abandoned because of the complexity of their schedules.

Nelson is a librarian at Battle Grove Elementary in eastern Baltimore County and will return to work Wednesday. Her daughter, Rebecca, a fifth-grader at public Roland Park Elementary School in the city, will continue on break all this week. Meanwhile, her son, Stephen, returned to classes March 17 after a one-week break from the Calvert School.

The family canceled plans for its usual trips to Washington or Philadelphia and called in help.

"It was just impossible -- I'm standing at the calendar because I can't figure it out any other way," Nelson said. "I called in my parents from Pennsylvania. They came down here to take care of my son. My daughter will be going up to their home to get through it."

Pub Date: 3/31/97

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