February 27, 2001 11:00 pm

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

Some Union County families will face a spring vacation scheduling conflict next month.

The reason: spring vacation at Eastern Oregon University will be a week later than the spring break for all of Union County's public school districts.

Spring break week for Union County's public schools will be March 19-23. Eastern's spring vacation is March 26-30.

This means that parents who work at EOU and have children in Union County schools will face a conflict. There could be other conflicts as well involving families with students enrolled both at Eastern and in public schools.

Traditionally, Easterns spring vacation has coincided with the spring break week for Union County public schools.

The conflict will impact families in the La Grande School District the most. The school board was aware of the conflict when it established its spring vacation schedule, Superintendent Jerry Sessions said.

La Grande's board did not adjust its schedule, though. The reason is that the other five Union County school districts already had set March 19-23 for spring break.

The La Grande board believed it was important to align its spring vacation week with those of Union Countys other public schools because of the special education services provided in the La Grande School District.

Many children in outlying Union County school districts travel into La Grande and Island City to attend special education classes. The

La Grande district provides the facilities for these classes. The Union-Baker Education Service District provides the special education programs teachers and staff.

Special education students in outlying Union County school districts cannot receive services in La Grande during the school district's spring vacation week.

This means that if the La Grande School District's spring vacation was a week after the spring breaks of Union Countys other public schools, many children receiving special education services would be impacted.

"Some special education students would have been out of school for two weeks," Sessions said. "We did not want them to be out of school that long."

The spring vacation conflict was caused in part because Eastern's spring break is during the fourth week of March this year. Traditionally it has been the third week of March.

Eastern and all members of the Oregon University System are on the same schedule. The university system's schedule is announced five years in advance.

Sessions said that all of Union Countys superintendents have agreed to make sure that their 2002 spring vacation schedule coincides with Eastern's.