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North Hills

Hampton officials to shorten spring break next year

| Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018, 9:00 p.m.
Hampton Township School District
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Hampton Township School District

There will be a shorter spring break for Hampton Township School District students in the 2018-19 school year.

The school board voted 7 to 1 to approve the district calendar at its Jan. 15 meeting, with board member Robert Shages, opposed.

Dr. Michael Loughead, district superintendent, said the idea to shorten the break from five days to three had been discussed since he came to the district several years ago.

“We're pleased with this. It's a little different but we're comfortable with it,” he said.

The district has had a five-day spring break vacation since at least 2003-04, not including weekends, according to Shari Berg, public relations consultant for the district. Next school year, it will be shortened to three days, which falls on April 18, 19 and 22 for 2019.

Loughead noted there is important testing that happens at that time, namely the Keystone Exams. These tests are end-of-year assessments designed to test proficiency in a handful of subject areas for students and will be a graduation requirement as of 2018-19, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Education website.

This is also a time for testing of the Pennsylvania System School Assessment in April and May for students in grades three through eight, according to the PDE website. And the Advanced Placement exams are also taken in May, according to Loughead.

He said those nine days without instruction can be too long off, especially so late in the school year. He said this may not be the best for students, academically and it may send the wrong message.

“Every day of instruction counts. The last month of school should be just as important as the first month of school,” he said.

Gail Litwiler, school board member, agreed the change is good academically.

The board acknowledged that many families do take that time off to travel. Bryant Wesley II, who serves as president to the school board, said the feedback he received from teachers was supportive.

Lisa An, who has a son in high school and one in middle school, was curious about those students who planned to take the longer break to visit colleges.

Mary Alice Hennessey, school board member, noted that students are allowed three college-visit days off. Loughead said there are some long weekends scheduled in the months prior to April, including four days off in a row in February.

Also, he noted that many other public school districts in the area have the same spring break as they proposed.

North Allegheny, Pine-Richland, Shaler Area, Deer Lakes, and Northgate all currently have breaks that are similar to the newly approved HTSD one, according to each district's online calendar.

Hennessey acknowledged any concern and said changes to the district calendar are not taken lightly, but really studied upon, including spring break.

“A lot of input and thought goes into the creation of the calendar,” she said.

Natalie Beneviat is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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