No decision yet on next year’s Vernon School District spring break

Students throughout the Vernon School District enjoying their annual break, but next year’s spring break is still up for discussion

The first time the Vernon School District had a two-week spring break was in 2004/05.

The district reverted back to the one-week break the following year, but returned to the two-week break in 2009/10.

Students throughout the district are probably rejoicing as their annual break continues but next year’s spring break is still up for discussion.

Joe Rogers, director of instruction, says the School Act requires that districts adopt and publish a calendar for the following year by May 31.

“It also establishes a standard school calendar for each school year, which sets out the days in session and the vacation periods for the year,” said Rogers.

The school calendar committee is made up of representatives from the District Parent Advisory Council, the Vernon Principals’ and Vice-Principals’ Association, CUPE and Student Voice.

Due to the job action, teachers were not represented on the committee this year, which met Feb. 14 and March 6 to review the calendar and legislation.

Committee members were asked to discuss various calendar options with their groups and report back their findings at the second meeting.

“It was a chance to get some feedback and look at possible options,” said Rogers.

“And at this point, it’s over to the board to decide where we go from here.”

DPAC representatives said most parents supported the two-week option, although some had daycare concerns.

“Teachers supported a two-week break and, as you might expect, the kids thought a two-week break was nice,” said Rogers.

“Administrators strongly support the two-week break and suggested adding a one-day school closure to the first sememster to maintain the current budget savings and school bell schedules.”

During last year’s two-week break, instructional time was made up by adding eight minutes a day to the schedule for elementary schools and 10 minutes a day for secondary schools.

But not all groups are happy with the longer break, especially members of CUPE, whose school support staff lost one week of pay during the second week.

“They felt it was a direct hit to their members,” said Rogers, adding that those affected include bus drivers, Certified Education Assistants and clerical staff.

“If the board was considering a two-week spring break, CUPE preferred March 25 to 28 as the second week to reduce the wage losses for their members. They would also like temporary work offered to members who would like to work during a two-week spring break.”

The calendar options will be posted on the district website for public feedback.

Trustee Kelly Smith suggested that the public be given two options to consider.

“I have two concerns with the two-week spring break: I think there is just one employee group that takes a direct monetary hit and that is CUPE, so I think having both options allows people to respond to that or not,” she said. “Also, extending the school days (to make up instructional time) means that CEAs would work that extra 10 minutes — I was a special ed teacher and if they were with the kids, even though they weren’t being paid and were free  to go, they would stay and work with the kids.”

Starting next week, parents and staff are free to go online to the district’s website and provide input on one of two options: the standard school calendar as set out by the Ministry of Education with a one-week spring break; or a local school calendar with a two-week spring break March 25 to 28 preceding the Easter weekend.

“I want to thank the board for their public support of inclusion for all employee groups,” said CUPE president Mark Olsen.

For more information, see www.sd22.bc.ca