Give me a break

It’s spring break at the University of Nevada, Reno. Hard to believe it’s already spring, but the daffodils and the fruit trees bursting with blossoms show that it’s time for the planet’s renewal.

Many students and teachers at the university have hopped into their cars or on planes, heading for home or to Mexico or even Europe for a bit of rest and relaxation. Everybody deserves a respite, a chance to recharge the batteries.

But due to two educational bureaucracies’ inability or unwillingness to work together, many parents and students are denied this opportunity. It’s like this: While UNR’s spring break is in the middle of the university’s semester, Truckee Meadows Community College and Washoe County School District’s spring breaks don’t begin until April 21. Their semesters end a few weeks later.

The UNR break occurs at approximately the same time every year, while the District and TMCC’s spring break follow the religious holiday, Easter. If Easter happened on the same date every year, like Christmas, that would be one thing, but it changes annually. Still, this isn’t a diatribe about the separation of church and state, but a call for some common sense scheduling.

On the surface, the inconsistency appears a piddling complaint. After all, what’s the harm? How many people are impacted?

Turns out, quite a few. Many instructors, administrators and hourly employees at UNR have school-age children. These people can’t plan for a family vacation or leave town while their children are in school. Unlike most jobs, where vacation times can be scheduled to some extent by the employee, these university employees can’t take time off when the grade, middle and high schools are closed for spring break. Again, most families don’t have the luxury of Thanksgiving, Christmas and spring breaks, so while this is a once-a-year irritant for many people, there are worse things to complain about.

Many K-12 teachers attend college classes or have children who do. Those people can’t schedule a family vacation during their own spring breaks because, while they may be off from their teaching duties, college classes are still in session.

Finally, there is the issue of scheduling daycare during the K-12 spring break. If the UNR and District breaks were during the same time period, this problem would be alleviated for hundreds of families. Most families with school age children are faced with paying for daycare during the break, but again, why not solve the problem for the families who shouldn’t have to have the extra expense?

While some families are not impacted by this scheduling issue, many are. This is trivial in comparison to things like war in Iraq, but it’s not trivial to those families who are impacted. It’s time that Washoe County School District and the University of Nevada, Reno, get together to schedule a common spring break.