School calendar proposal keeps two-week spring break

The Abbotsford board of education will vote next month on a school calendar for 2011-12 that maintains the two-week spring break, adds six instructional days to the year, and increases school district costs by $409,000.

The Abbotsford board of education will vote next month on a school calendar for 2011-12 that maintains the two-week spring break, adds six instructional days to the year, and increases school district costs by $409,000.

Board chair Cindy Schafer said the changes are being proposed to help meet a range of criteria.

“We’ve tried to accommodate most of the opinions and concerns expressed by parents and the public,” she said.

The board faced public backlash last spring when it voted to return to a one-week spring vacation. It then reversed that decision for the 2010-11 school year, with trustees saying they would revisit the issue for the following year.

Several trustees said they were concerned about extra minutes being added to each school day to make up for the extra week of spring vacation. They said a few minutes extra per day did not provide the same quality of education that a full day would.

This has been addressed in the proposed new calendar. The eight minutes currently added on to each elementary school day and nine minutes for high schools have been eliminated.

Instead, six full instructional days have been added, amounting to an additional $409,000 in costs, mainly for staffing. Two of those days have been made up by moving spring break from mid-March to April 2-13, which includes two statutory holidays – Good Friday and Easter Monday.

This means spring break will use up eight days of the school calendar, rather than 10.

Another two days are made up by placing two professional development days on Sept. 1 and 2, before the official start of school on Sept. 6.

Other changes in the proposed calendar include moving Christmas break from Dec. 23 to Jan. 9, and balancing out the number of days in each secondary and middle school semester – 91 and 95 days, as opposed to 89 and 97 in the standard calendar.

A public information meeting on the proposed calendar takes place Tuesday, Feb. 15 at 7:30 p.m. at W. J. Mouat Secondary.

Starting Feb. 16, an online survey will be available on the school district website or on paper at local schools.

Delegations are welcome to speak at the board of education meeting on Feb. 21 at 7:30 p.m. in the school district administration office. The deadline to apply to address the board is Feb. 17.

Written submissions to the board will be received until March 4.

The board will vote on the calendar on March 28 at 7:30 p.m.

For more information, visit the school district website at sd43.bc.ca.