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Spring break in Billings schools could be five days off in April, under a proposal from the Billings School District 2 calendar committee.

Earlier proposals for spring break would have eliminated the week off beginning in 2010.

Instead, the proposals were for scheduling two days off to make a long weekend in February.

The committee voted Monday to change those February days off to April.

The school calendars already include days off in early April.

There would still be a day when teachers are given training and kids have the day off. The off day accommodates the district music festival, which fills an entire school.

The proposal applies to the three school years beginning this fall.

The days off, starting in 2010, would begin the Wednesday before Good Friday.

The proposal was presented by Jeff Greenfield, president of the Billings Education Association and chairman of the calendar committee.

Trustees could consider the proposal during their February meeting, Greenfield said.

None of the 11 members of the committee, including trustees Dawn Achten, Mary Jo Fox and Sandra Mossman, voted against the pro-posal

The committee membership includes union leadership, teachers, parents/community members, the district human resources manager and trustees Fox and Achten.

Mossman was appointed at this month's trustees' meeting to replace Achten, because Achten did not believe she could attend Monday's meeting.

Greenfield said the committee meets the criterion in the union contract to "meet and confer" about the calendar.

State law also requires that changes in the calendar be negotiated with employees' representatives.

Discussion has focused on whether a break has education value, hurts test scores or if kids and staff need the break.

On Monday, Fox said that if there is a five-day break, those days should be school days and weekend days should not count.

She and Mossman favored surveying parents - the unions surveyed all staff - to get their input.

Greenfield countered that there have been opportunities because the issue has been before trustees twice and

Fox wrote a letter to the editor last week asking for input.

Activities director Dave Williams said a survey was done years ago and its results and his 16 years working with the calendar committee

have shown that the community tends to be split in thirds - those who favor spring break, those

who don't because of trouble securing child care and those who will take their kids out of school for vacations regardless.

The latter was one of the areas of consensus for the committee.

People who want spring break for a vacation have money to travel and will do so when it fits parents' work schedules, members said.

"The people who are going to take spring break are going to take spring break whenever they want it," Achten said.

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