“More complex than it first appears”

The 2013/2014 school calendar will continue with a one-week spring break.
Image Credit: SOURCE/School District No. 73


By Jennifer Stahn

As students around Kamloops are celebrating the fact they get a week off of school there are still some people questioning whether School District 73 should look at a two-week break instead of the standard one week that has been in place for years.

District SD73 isn't the only one in the province to have a one-week spring break. There are 20 others that also take a one-week break – though the 39 other school districts in B.C. have opted for a two-week break. Some utilize “days in-lieu” to round out the extra week while others still have negotiated the extra time with their unions.

Assistant Superintendent Karl deBruijn says a two-week break is a definite possibility and input is welcome on the subject, however the district has not heard from many people about spring break timelines. At a recent public input session about the school calendar only three people spoke about spring break; a parent who thought a two-week break was too long and two teachers who wanted to see an extended break.

The district says going to a two-week break means hourly staff such as bus drivers and school support staff will lose wages. deBruijn says any savings the district would have with a longer break “are carried by support staff.”

A change would also require the board to renegotiate with the union before anything could be finalized, though some teachers already bank time to take extended breaks so it may not be much of a concern.

While deBruijn believes many parents would welcome a longer break for family trips he adds there are no studies showing two weeks would be better from an educational standpoint. 

A calendar change is a “lot more complex than it first appears,” says deBruijn.

The limiting factor is getting those hours in to accommodate the teachers contract, he said.

Changes to the calendar have been made in the past, most recently to accommodate full-day Kindergarten. The program was implemented over a two year period and has been fully in place for nearly two years now.

In the beginning, deBruijn notes, there was a very vocal group that thought it was the best way to go, but there was also a group of people concerned it would be too hard on the kids.

Following a recent legislation change allowing each district to make up its own calendar, some people also brought up the idea of year-round school but deBruijn says, “people have become very thoughtful about it, they have begun to realize that if every district had a different calendar nothing would be synchronized.” He points to sports tournaments that often rely on schools having similar calendars.

Year-round school could also present problems to outside programs, such as the YMCA or TRU programming geared at children having certain breaks throughout the year. The possibility of high school students graduating at different times could also present a problem with post-secondary education registration.

“It is an interesting concept, but people have realized the complexity of the issue,” deBruijn says.

As for a two-week spring break, “it's certainly up for discussion right now, for future calendars,” deBruijn said, adding anyone who wants to provide feedback can do so by emailing schoolcalendarinput@sd73.bc.ca. Feedback is for the 2014-2017 calendars, the 2013/2014 school calendar has already been developed and mimics the current calendar.

To contact a reporter for this story, email jstahn@infotelnews.ca or call (250) 819-3723.

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