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SCHOOL NEAR HAFB WILL GET EXTENDED VACATION BREAKS

SHARE SCHOOL NEAR HAFB WILL GET EXTENDED VACATION BREAKS

Davis School District will let an elementary school near Hill Air Force Base have longer vacations at spring and Christmas breaks.

But not without some reservations.The school, Hill Field Elementary, asked the the district to let students off 3 1/2 days earlier than usual during spring break in April and four days early during Christmas break. The move allows families of students, 99 percent of whom are full-time military, to visit out-of-state relatives without missing too much school.

School board members agreed but want to make sure the calendar change doesn't hurt student learning or spread to other schools in the county.

"I can think of probably 10 schools that would like this schedule," said Louenda Downs, board president. "We want to make sure it really is necessary and doesn't hurt academics."

Students will make up the extra time by starting school earlier every day and staying longer. Instead of beginning at 8:30 a.m., bells will ring at 8:20 a.m. and classes will dismiss at 3:10 instead of 3:05 p.m. On Mondays, usually an early out day, students will stay an additional five minutes.

Dale Barnett, area director for the district, questions whether 20 minutes a day can make up for the learning that usually takes place in the 71/2 days that will be missed.

"I hesitate to see this where it really isn't necessary. I personally question whether the 20 minutes can make up for the missed days," he said.

But the changes will allow the school to better use its physical education room, library and computer lab, said Pat McKay, principal.

Also, the plan should greatly reduce absences in the weeks before and after the scheduled breaks. The school recorded 850 absences last year during those time periods, she said.

Still, the board wants to monitor test scores next year after the schedule change and then review the plan.

All of Hill Field's teachers support the plan, saying they'd use the extra time every day to interact more personally with each child. Ninety-two percent of the school's parents like the plan; 84 percent of hourly rate employees support it, McKay said.