RCS Returns to Two Week Spring Break

At last night’s BOE meeting, BOE members voted unanimously to return to the two week spring break in the approved calendar for the 2015-16 school year.

There’s a long history in Western New York surrounding a split break with a week off in February and another week around Easter or two weeks around Easter. Districts have varied on their approach with a real effort on the part of the local BOCES leaders, for obvious reasons, to have all component school districts on the same calendar.

For many years Randolph maintained the two week break as we understood from our families that this was their strong preference. In the 2012-13 school year, we switched to the split break so that our students who attend BOCES programs would be on the same calendar with the rest of the schools in the Cattaraugus/Allegany BOCES.

After three years of aligning with the rest of the schools, we are returning to the two week break from March 14, 2016-March 25, 2016. Why? For me, the most compelling reasons have always been instructional. What’s best for kids when considering their learning and achievement? Is a split break better because students only miss one week at a time and therefore retain learning? Or does a split break mean there’s even more lost instruction because of the loss of quality engagement the days before two breaks instead of one?

When evaluating the change to a split break, I spoke with some of our teacher leaders and found that for instructional purposes, they strongly prefer the solid instructional block from the Winter Break around Christmas and the New Year to a two week Spring Break. They opined that breaking twice is less effective.

Next we considered the argument that we have many families who don’t go anywhere on the break anyway, because they can’t afford a trip or the time off from work. What we found, instead, is that our families largely drive if they do take a vacation and they can’t do so with only a one week trip. For the most part, our families can’t afford a trip over only one week because they can’t fly everyone somewhere. And many of our families continue to take two weeks during the Spring break, with the problem of missed school days for their children. Our daily attendance rate, which is usually around 95-98% was down to 79% before our break this March.

While realizing the impact it will have on our approximately 40 BOCES students who will have a different calendar for 8 school days, we have planned to transport students during the first week of the spring break if they will attend. And in February, when BOCES is on break and we are in full session, the CTE students will have half days here at RCS.

It’s important that we work well with our neighboring districts and our BOCES. It’s also important that we respond to the needs of our families in our community. The approved school calendar for 2015-16 will be posted on the District website.


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  1. Our CTE students attend a different BOCES center than your Gowanda students but all three of the WNY BOCES regions–Erie 1, Erie 2, and our BOCES Catt/Alle, do try to have all component districts on the same schedule. We have all but three of our SPED students here in house and about 40 CTE students who go for vo-tech. You can imagine it’s more of an issue to vary the calendar from the regional one if you send out a lot more students.
    And I’m sure many of my colleagues and BOCES superintendents hope very much that I’m NOT paving the way Heather. It was a decision in which I very much chose to listen to my BOE members and community rather than the regional leaders. That was difficult as we do want to work together collaboratively with other districts. I just felt my first priority was to listen to our school community. We tried the split break for three years and many of our families continued to drive south for two weeks at Easter time. That’s missed instruction for too many students. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Interesting suggestion Jane! That would be the first two weeks of February. I’m not sure how that would work for our families and community? Also, then we’d be out of alignment with the BOCES and regional calendar for four weeks instead of 8 days so that could pose a problem. Thanks for commenting!

  3. Any consideration given on breaking at the end of the semister rather than Easter? Seems to be more beneficial educationally?

  4. Thank You! The split has never made sense. Keeping the kids bottled up in February accomplished nothing. Nice decision RCS!

  5. I have talked to our Super about going back to 2 weeks in Spring. He advised me that we have to closely follow the BOCES calendar. Do students from Randolph attend LoGuidice? I hope you are paving the way…..

  6. Glad we are finally not letting BOCES dictate what you and the faculty and Board feel is best for our students. As it always should be!

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