Ba humbug over Christmas break

Concerned parents from Port McNeill spoke at School District 85's board meeting Sept. 12.

Concerned parents from Port McNeill attended School District 85’s (SD85) board meeting on Monday, Sept. 12, to debate SD85’s three-year Christmas holiday schedule.

Bonnie Barrett and Dana Sparks made an impassioned plea for SD85 to rethink the holiday break schedule, which is currently set for students to leave school on Dec. 23 and not return until Jan. 10.

“I have two children that attend school at NISS and Sunset,” said Barrett, adding that no one can recall the calendar being sent out to parents as “we would have looked at it and not appreciated the dates.”

Barrett stated there has been a lot of uproar recently on social media regarding the holiday schedule affecting family time because the holiday break starts “too close to Christmas for festivities to happen. I’ve never seen it this close to Christmas before.”

“The schedule has been out there since February of this year,” said SD85 Board Chair Leightan Wishart, adding that there’s been “plenty of time for concerns to come forward, plenty of time to plan and make Christmas bookings.”

“Where were these voices when we put out the schedule?” said Board Trustee Danita Schmidt.

“We mustered as much support as we could in the last few days,” said Barrett. “A lot of families on the North Island have to travel, and we don’t see why the calendar can’t be reviewed and changed now.”

Wishart cautioned that if they were to change the schedule, SD85 would be responsible for paying for the changes “to the dates on holidays already booked.”

“If it was me and I had a distance to travel, I would make a family decision to take the children and go,” said SD85 Vice Chair Lyn Skrlac. “I wouldn’t ask to have the whole schedule changed for my personal needs. To me, it’s a family decision.”

Wishart finished off the debate by saying that the board “can have a look at the schedule at a subsequent meeting and see if we can do better next year.”

The decision to not change the schedule is “not vindictive,” said Skrlac. “We’ll look at it for next year and the year after.”