We have 180 days of school per year, and therefore 185 days without school. There ought to be days on the calendar for families to vacation during the holidays. To facilitate families' visiting their extended family over the holidays, our school board has intentionally extended the December break. This year it is 19 consecutive days, similar to last year.
We can't have teachers constantly juggling a couple of independent projects (and making sure students catch up on what they missed) while also planning lessons, collaborating with their peers, assessing students, entering grades, communicating with parents, and giving students feedback on their work. Teaching is hard work, and having 1-2 students regularly out of the class adds to the teacher's workload and slows the class down to some degree.
Last, we are funded by the state by student attendance. Each absence, whether excused or not, reduces our funding by roughly $50. If everyone missed 4 days per a year (4350 x $200 = $870,000), it would really hurt our bottom line. We'd need to cut a half dozen teaching positions or raise donations even more (without offering any additional programming in return).
We value family and education. However, given the District's limited resources, how our funding is calculated, and the demands that we place upon our teachers, we can't afford to approve voluntary absences.