Area schools synchronizing spring breaks

File photo Haidyn Mount, 8, entered four rabbits in the Curry County Fair last year. Clovis Municipal Schools changed their instructional calendar this year so that children like Mount can focus on the fair during fair week and come to school the week after.

Liliana Castillo

All of the schools in Roosevelt and Curry counties will take spring break on the same week next year.

That includes Clovis Community College and Eastern New Mexico University.

Administrators from districts in both counties worked together to schedule spring break at the same time, but there were a few outside forces pointing them toward the same week.

The New Mexico Public Education Department changed the timeframe for state testing in the 2011-2012 school year to begin March 19 and last four weeks.

NMPED is attempting to return test scores to schools sooner than the current Aug. 1 date. In an effort to do that, the state is transitioning to a shorter testing window. During the 2012-2013 school year, the testing window will last three weeks.

With testing beginning March 19 next year, scheduling spring break the week before it, from March 12-16, made sense.

Clovis Municipal Schools also worked to begin school after the week of the Curry County Fair. A bill passed the state Legislature helping them do that.

The bill changed the required length of the school year from days to hours. Last year, districts had to have school for 180 days. Next year, they have to meet 1,080 hours.

The switch provides districts with some flexibility, such as moving the first day of school to Aug. 22, after fair week of Aug. 15-20.

“I think it’s going to increase our attendance,” said Curry County Events Center and Fairgrounds General Manager Kevin Jolley. “It’s a huge benefit not only for us but for the community itself. There are so many kids that show animals.”

Jolley said Texico, Melrose and Grady have started school after the fair for years and he’s glad Clovis joined the trend.

“Some of the livestock shows run pretty late,” he said. “This way parents aren’t worried about getting their kids up and to school.”

Curry County extension office staff said about 250 youths show animals and 4-H projects at the fair each year. In 2010, more than 23,000 people attended the fair and much of fair entertainment takes places in the evening.

“We have a lot of kids who compete and parents who are involved,” CMS Deputy Superintendent of Instruction Cindy Martin said. “And families like to stay out late and have fun at the fair and it can be hard to get to school the next day.”

Martin said students didn’t skip school for the fair so much, rather they came to school tired and were hard pressed to focus in class.

Martin said CMS and CCC have the same spring break every year and Portales Municipal Schools Superintendent Randy Fowler said the same of PMS and ENMU. Then the topic was broached at a Regional Educational Center meeting and everyone got on the same page.

“We are all intertwined in so many ways,” Martin said. “We know that a lot of teachers are attending classes at ENMU or CCC or they have children that are and they want to have a family vacation. Now they can do that.”

Melrose Municipal Schools Superintendent Jamie Widner said it’s good to have everyone going in the same direction.

“With everyone on a different schedule, we couldn’t do anything with each other,” he said.

CCC Vice President Becky Rowley said it’s important to make the small things convenient for staff and students.

“This makes things a lot more convenient,” Rowley said. “We try to do this all the time. I was so excited it worked out this time.”