School District 85 (SD85) has proposed changes to the 2019-2020 school calendar, but the new schedule has some parents shocked about moving spring break closer to Easter weekend.
During the Dec. 10 SD85 trustees meeting a number of parents expressed concern over a proposed date change for school spring breaks across the North Island. One parent, Bonnie Barrett, penned a letter to the school board, expressing clearly that she was “shocked to see that Spring Break is being held in April from the 6th to the 17th.”
“This makes absolutely no sense to me,” Barrett stated in the letter. “A survey went out for all the parents, teachers, (Canadian Union of Public Employees) members to fill out and return regarding spring break … in no uncertain terms did the parents understand that the potential to link Easter and Spring Break would be this detrimental to all of us.”
She noted parents may have to pull their children out of school in March due to soccer, hockey, or basketball tournaments. She also claims that draft calendars on the issue were not presented to Sunset Elementary School’s parent advisory committee (PAC) meetings or at North Island Secondary School’s PAC meetings.
“I understood you as a board would consult other school districts and try to align the calendars,” she said during her delegation to the school board, “I just want to know were any other school districts consulted at all in planning of the calendar?”
Another parent echoed Barrett’s sentiment during the meeting, having stated that “we got our two weeks, but it’s going to be in April and, again, we’re going to be pulling our kids out.”
In the April 2018 survey put out to parents, the SD85 board of education stated that they were “considering a two week Spring Break starting in 2020.” The survey was limited to one per family.
The survey provided frequently asked questions, number two being: “If approved when would a two week Spring Break be scheduled?”
SD85 wrote immediately under that question, having answered that they are “looking at scheduling a two week Spring Break around Easter. This will reduce the amount of instructional time that needs to be made up to three days. With the elimination of a non-instructional day, the amount of time to make up becomes just two days.”
Moving spring break to overlap Easter weekend, normally two days off, would mean less time to make up missed school days. SD85 is responsible for meeting a minimum requirement of 853 hours of instruction for students in kindergarten, 878 hours for grades 1 to 7, and 952 hours for grades 8 to 12.
Survey results showed that out of the 736 surveys sent out, 333 families were in favour of a two week spring break, which is a 63 per cent approval rating out of those 528 who responded.
Leightan Wishart, school board chair, mentioned that for those 208 families that did not respond at all to the survey, SD85 took the time to reach out to families via phone calls. 106 families were inclined to have no change to the school calendar while 89 families had no preference.
In addition to parents’ concerns, the Canadian Union of Public Employees 2nd vice-president Jody Welch “expressed disappointment regarding the two week spring break nothing that borrowing holidays for the extra week results in loss of pay,” stated the minutes of Nov. 19 board meeting.