Two-week spring break sticks for school calendar

Students throughout the Vernon School District will be relieved to learn that the two-week spring break will continue for the next few years

Students throughout the Vernon School District will be relieved to learn that the two-week spring break will continue for the next few years.

In a recent presentation to school board trustees, director of instruction Linda Spiller presented the proposed school calendars for the 2015/16 and the 2016/17 school years.

“Every year we’re asked to create a district calendar with a committee made up of representatives from the Vernon Teachers’ Association, Student Voice, DPAC, the Vernon Principals’ and Vice-Principals’ Association and CUPE.

“Before we met, we checked out other districts to get an idea of how they are looking at spring break. But what guided our decisions is what is in the best interests of the students.

“When we look at the number of instructional days we make sure we are meeting the minimum guidelines from the ministry for days in session and minutes per day.”

That means that for the 2015/16 year, elementary students will be in session for 293 minutes per day, secondary students 320 minutes per day.

For the 2016/17 year, those minutes will be topped up by two minutes per day to make up for one less day of instruction because of where the Easter weekend falls during the school year.

“My understanding is that the board is interested in maintaining the two-week spring break,” said Spiller. “Then we look at balancing the semesters to allow for both provincial exams and secondary school exam days. What we heard from students is that they did not want a Pro D  in January in the same week as they are getting ready for provincial exams — we did have one scheduled but they asked us to move it.

“When you look at January and April next year, they are very strong months with no breaks but it is what is best for student learning.”

CUPE requested that the September Pro-D Day, which falls the day after Labour Day and the day before school starts, could be moved but Spiller said it can’t take place before Labour Day, as per the teachers’ collective agreement.

Both school years contain six non-instructional, professional development days, and Spiller said the committee ensures there is a balance of Pro-D Days throughout the year, with three per semester.

“And to really maximize professional development, it’s best to have it ongoing through the year as it builds collaboration and sharing,” she said. “The planning is based on all stakeholders who are represented on our committee.”

Before the school calendar can be submitted to the Ministry of Education, it must be approved by the board.

The district is currently seeking feedback from all community stakeholders about the proposed calendars for the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 school years. A survey has been posted to www.sd22.bc.ca and students, teachers, parents, support staff and administrators can provide recommendations or approve of the calendars.

“The public needs a month for input and then at the next board meeting, trustees will approve it before it gets submitted to the ministry,” said district superintendent Joe Rogers. “Once it meets the needs of the district and of parents, we will send it in.”