School calendar adopted
It may not win approval from many teachers and parents, but students are likely to be enthusiastic that the two-week spring break will continue in the next two years.
The Vernon School District board of trustees has approved the school calendar for the 2013/14 school year and has approved, in principle, the calendar for the following year, both of which include a two-week spring break.
Proposals for the school calendars were posted on the district’s web site for feedback from all partner groups.
Led by director of instruction Joe Rogers, the calendar committee met in December, January and February to go over the surveys and present their findings to trustees.
“Out of 657 people who responded to the online survey, 82 said they liked the two-week spring break, and 31 said they did not,” said Rogers.
“Some were parents and some were CUPE members and others were those who just thought two weeks is two long.”
The bottom line, said Rogers, is it comes down to budget: a two-week spring break saves the board about $40,000 a day, so the board made a decision four years ago to alter the calendar.
“Unfortunately, that is because we don’t have the secretaries, bus drivers and support staff, so CUPE members take the hit, but when we can get back to a balanced budget, we will consider a one-week spring break.”
Many who responded to the survey said the one-week spring break was not conducive to student learning and not supportive of families, as day care is an issue for many.
Many others included comments about Pro-D Days as well as student-led conferences. Next year’s calendar includes six professional development days for teachers.
Students will spend 188 days in class: 293 minutes per day for elementary students, 320 minutes for secondary.
The calendar must be submitted to the Ministry of Education by March 31 for approval. If the calendar is found to be non-compliant, the ministry has 30 days from the date of receipt to make amendments.
Of British Columbia’s 60 school district, 31 have a two-week spring break, including all of the Okanagan districts. The Surrey district also adds a one-week reading break in November as a way of saving money.
“There is just no way to balance the budget and try and stay in the class size guidelines, and with enrolment down, this is just one of the things we have to do,” said Rogers.
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The bad news is that enrolment is down and not expected to improve in the next few years. The good news, is that the district has no plans to close any more schools.
Both Whitevale and West Vernon elementary schools closed their doors in recent years, but district superintendent Bev Rundell said that is not a trend that is continuing.
“There is nothing new to report on our budget at this point, but we are not anticipating any school closures next year,” she said.
“There have been rumours but this is not the case. If that were the case, the board has a process we would have to follow, so I want to lay that rumour to rest.”
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At last month’s board meeting, trustees received the report from MQN Architects on the state of the board office, which is long overdue for renovations.
Board chairman Bill Turanski said the board recommends that it directs the superintendent of schools to develop renovation plans, cost estimates and timelines for presentation to trustees at the May 22 board meeting.
“This is not the go-ahead to begin renovations, simply a way of beginning the process and give us something to work on, as we need background information before we can do anything,” he said.
“It’s all about fact-finding to give you a clear picture before proceeding.”