By Matt Horan

In 2011, the School District of Hillsborough County (SDHC), Florida, which serves the Tampa area, will take Good Friday off.  Is that a good idea?

While some Christians touted the decision as a victory for faith, School Board Members were quick to cite high absenteeism and large numbers of teachers and bus drivers calling in sick as the reason.  A few years ago the SDHC  voted to employ a fully secular calendar, avoiding scheduling school holidays to coincide with days of religious observance.  However, the vote did allow for the schedule to be adjusted to account for days where it is difficult to offer effective instruction due to the lack of teachers and students, as well as bus drivers to get them there on time.

So, for this reason, the SDHC voted 5-2 to make Good Friday a “non-student” or “teacher planning” day.  (For teachers to get this day off, they will still be required to use allotted vacation time.)

I have trouble faulting the SDHC.  If we’re just going to open the buildings to show movies or play games or give busy work, all the while scrambling to cover teachers with substitutes and bus drivers with adjusted pick-up routes, what’s the point?  Might as well close the doors, turn off the lights and save money on the utility bill.

I do find fault with the students (mainly their parents), teachers, and staff who have been taking this day off.  What are they doing to commemorate Good Friday when they’re not at school? Going to the beach?  Sitting by the pool?  Sleeping in?  Our church’s Good Friday service is at night, so they could go to school and then come to that after.  Is the death of Christ on this day so grievous that they cannot concentrate on their work?

I feel like Jesus was used in this whole decision.  The SDHC’s hand was forced, and they really had no choice.  But if everybody feels so passionate about taking this day off to commemorate the death of Jesus Christ, how will you do it?  I’d have a hard time believing that commemorating it requires sun-tan lotion and some extra sleep, but I have an even harder time believing that those won’t be used to commemorate it on Good Friday 2011.

  1. Joe Fisher says:


    Thanks for making us think. Thanks for asking the tough questions. I suspect you are right about folks using the day as an excuse rather than a true time to express and explore their faith.


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