Vacation overload

When it comes to arranging child care, this has been a tough year for many parents with youngsters in the Chico schools.

That’s because last year, in the process of eliminating year-round classes in the elementary schools, the Chico Unified School District made substantial changes in vacation schedules. Thanksgiving vacation, which historically had been two days, became a full week. And, more recently, Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays—historically celebrated on successive Mondays—stretched to become Presidents’ Week.

The result is that, in the six months from November 2006 to April 2007, there are five week-long vacations. That’s great for students, but for working parents it’s a challenge. How many people—other than school-district employees—can take that much time off? And most child-care centers are already booked up. As a result, folks were begging friends, shipping kids off to grandparents or leaving them home alone, worrying all the while.

It’s time to start making better use of school facilities. It makes no sense to have them sit empty nearly half the year.

Why not offer a range of recreational opportunities—sports, arts and crafts, environmental education, gardening—at school sites when classes aren’t in session? Families with two working parents can afford to pay reasonable fees for such offerings and would be grateful to have somewhere safe and fun to park their kids while they’re on the job.