Measure would make schools take spring breaks at same time

Tuesday, May 23rd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- A bill headed to the governor for his signature includes a provision stating the Legislature's intent to align all spring breaks among state public schools, colleges and technology centers.

The item included in House Bill 2728 does not mandate the alignment, but the author of the provision says "the clear intent" is for a uniform spring break.

"A grandfather who wrote to me has a grandson in district A and another in district B and can't do anything together because they don't have the same spring break," said Senate President Pro Tem Stratton Taylor, D-Clarision.

The plan calls for the state superintendent of public instruction along with the chancellor for higher education and the state director of career and technology education to coordinate spring break to come up with the same week, beginning in the 2001-2002 school year.

The bill passed the House and Senate last week and now awaits the governor's approval.

"We're just trying to be pro-family," Taylor said. "It's not the most important education issue, but the government ought to try to do something that helps families.

"If schools can have the same schedule for Thanksgiving and Christmas, they can have the same for spring break."

Officials who oversee the various areas of education said they had concerns about the idea. They mentioned problems of location, schedules, local control, regional work force and the fact some districts don't take spring breaks.

"We have different work force areas, and some colleges don't start on the same day," said Hans Brisch, state chancellor for higher education. "We need to continue to allow flexibility. But there should be some coordination in areas that don't have it."

Coordination has not been a problem between public schools and state technology centers.

"They generally try to agree on the same week," said Ann Benson, director of the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education. "I know there is some lack of consistency."

State Superintendent of Schools Sandy Garrett brought up several problems with the provision.

"There are many schools that haven't had spring breaks. They take fall breaks," she said. "And break is not defined.

"We will run it by our legal counsel to get interpretation. We may ask the attorney general."

House Bill 2728 was written to correct some of the problems with last year's education reform measure, House Bill 1759. The bill mandated new graduation requirements and narrowed the scope of course offerings.

"The overall bill is more important than the provision," Benson said. "It's more important for students to have flexibilit yin what classes they can take."