Dubuque Schools Get Rid of Spring Break, Add Weekly Late Arrivals

by Katie Wiedemann, Reporter

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By Katie Wiedemann

DUBUQUE, Iowa - They'll be no more spring break for students and teachers in Dubuque. And students will have a one hour late arrival every Friday. That will start during the 2014-2015 school year.

Those calendar changes come as Dubuque Schools are moving from a 180 school day calendar to a 1,080 hour schedule.

The district hosted an online forum to get feedback from families before making a decision. Board members say more than 1000 people weighed in on the online forum. More than 500 people said they wanted to get rid of spring break. However, it's the one hour late arrival on Fridays that has parents frustrated.

Tracy Noel is trying to figure out how she'll get all three of her kids to school on Fridays next school year. For her family, taking the school bus one hour later isn't an option.

Noel said, "For me to physically take my daughter to school and to pay more money. I am using my own gas. And my time. It's not feasible. "

Teachers will use that extra hour on Friday mornings for professional development.

During a public hearing some parents urged the board to re-think the plan.

Susie Conlon-Kalb said, "One way we could do this is possibly lengthening the school day. Add 30 minutes to those days. "

Other parents suggested instead of the weekly late arrival, they'd prefer an early dismissal on Fridays.

"Brain development is at the peak in the morning hours. So I feel like taking children out of school during those hours is very difficult, " said Barb Weber, a Dubuque Daycare Provider.

District officials say they understand parents frustrations, but say something has to give.

Dubuque School Superintendent Stan Rheingans said, "There has been kind of an angst there that we're disrupting people's schedules. But I feel like as the educational leader, as the Superintendent, I feel it's my job to ensure a world class education. And that sometimes comes with some scheduling issues. "

"By and large you're never going to please everyone, but I think the process was really strong, " said School Board Member Matt Strelo.

School officials say there will be childcare available at the schools on Friday mornings. The district says eventually it's the goal to make that childcare free for all families.

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