PJC, the University of West Florida and the school districts of Escambia and Santa Rosa counties need to take the time to schedule spring breaks that better serve student needs — consistently.
For years spring breaks in Escambia and Santa Rosa county schools have been occurring at no specifically pre-scheduled week in the school year; the same goes for PJC and UWF. In terms of providing a break that falls on the midpoint of the term, they have each failed.
Spring breaks fall between March and April, while academic terms come to a rapid close in as little as a month following the break.
The local colleges and school districts have had meetings in the past for the purpose of coordinating a common spring break among them, but because of the differences among them it never came to pass.
Indeed, colleges and school districts are about as similar as beach balls and basketballs; sure, they both have educational facilities, but they operate in different environments, serve different communities, and are subject to different processes. Therefore, having them share a common spring break is neither feasible nor convenient.
The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, or FCAT, occurs in March and is one restriction that local school districts must work around when deciding dates for spring break. March, on the other hand, is a common month for spring break among PJC and UWF.
Incidentally, the local colleges and school districts somehow manage to coordinate coinciding breaks from time to time, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing.
When spring break is paired between a school district and a college it may provide too early of a break for the K-12 group or too late of a break for the college group. In addition to FCAT restrictions, this is due to their significantly different semesters or quarters; the local school districts let out for summer weeks after PJC and UWF.
Of course, when spring break is paired between PJC and UWF, the result can be a convenient break near the midpoint of the term, right where it’s supposed to be. The same goes for when the break is paired between Escambia County and Santa Rosa County schools.
Now that’s starting to sound like a solution. In addition, each of their breaks should fall at a consistent point in the year, every year.
This should do away with the major differences and build on the similarities of like animals, plus add some convenience for students and parents.
Colleges and universities have common start dates; PJC and UWF have similar semesters and therefore similar calendars too. Registrars from both schools have claimed that their goal is to schedule spring break to be just past the midpoint of the term.
Since PJC and UWF are nearly identical in these respects, it makes perfect sense that their breaks should be during the same week.
Furthermore, students do travel beyond their own backyard; it is not farfetched to think that students from PJC might have friends that attend UWF. After all, the schools are only about six miles apart. Friends like to hang out over spring break, and that was hard for them to do since their breaks were two weeks apart.
College spring breaks shouldn’t be bound by the restrictions of school districts and vice versa. Escambia County and Santa Rosa County school districts should adopt a similar policy: instead of trying to coordinate with PJC and UWF, they should coordinate with themselves.
This will free them up to provide for their students’ needs, giving them an appropriate break as well.
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