Shorter school year approved for Langley

Teachers’ union files grievance, citing contract violation

Langley schools will be closed for six more days and the missing time will be made up by adding a few minutes to remaining school days to compensate for lost instruction time.

The money-saving measure was approved by trustees on Tuesday night.

They opted for a middle-of-the-road solution where more employees will be paid for working those days, a move that reduces the potential savings from $639,000 to $225,000 a year, but averts a confrontation with the union that represents part-time support staff.

Trustee Steve Burton, who chaired the meeting, voted against the change, saying a few extra minutes of classroom time will not replace the missing six days.

“I do not like this,” Burton said.

Neither did the other trustees, but they said the district’s options are limited because it must make deep budget cuts to repay a multimillion dollar budget overrun in the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 school years.

Trustee Rob McFarlane described the alteration to the school calendar as “a less painful way than some of the alternatives.”

Trustee Wendy Johnson called it “the least of the evils we’re looking at”

Trustee Alison McVeigh viewed it as a temporary measure that will be rescinded as soon as possible.

“It is my hope it will be [gone] in two years. My expectation is it will be three.”

Trustee Rod Ross agreed.

“I do not see us going beyond this.”

The Langley Teachers Association has filed a grievance over the change, saying it violates their union contract.

LTA president Susan Fonseca called the change “depressing.”

“We have a mounting deficit of hope in Langley,” Fonseca told trustees Tuesday.

The change to the 2011-2012 school calendar will double spring break from one to two weeks and add one day to the Remembrance Day long weekend.

Nine minutes will be added to each elementary school days and 10 minutes tacked on to secondary school days.