Abbotsford board of education considers status quo school calendar option

The Abbotsford board of education has introduced an option to maintain the status quo in its proposal for the 2011-12 school calendar.

Some parents have expressed concern that school sports is one area that could be impacted if a new school calendar proposal is approved next month

Some parents have expressed concern that school sports is one area that could be impacted if a new school calendar proposal is approved next month

The Abbotsford board of education has introduced an option to maintain the status quo in its proposal for the 2011-12 school calendar.

Trustees held a special meeting on Monday to authorize inclusion of a calendar that is the same as the current one.

School district superintendent Julie MacRae said the board added the option after considering what delegations said at a meeting on Feb. 21, as well as 1,500 responses to a survey on the issue.

The new option will maintain the two-week spring break in March and keep Christmas break aligned with the rest of the province. It also continues to have an additional eight minutes added to each elementary school day and nine minutes at the secondary level.

As well, two non-instructional days originally considered for Sept. 1 and 2 have been moved to Jan. 27 and June 28.

The previous option, which is still up for consideration, saw spring break being moved to April, Christmas break being held later (Dec. 26-Jan. 9), and the removal of the extra minutes from each day, resulting in six additional instructional days at an approximate cost of $409,000.

Some trustees said a few extra minutes per day did not provide the same quality of education as a full day, and the additional costs were worth it.

However, all the delegations speaking at a board of education meeting on Feb. 21 were opposed to the changes.

They argued that the additional costs were not warranted, especially in a time of fiscal restraint.

Several said the board had not provided any evidence to back up its claims that the six full days, versus the extra minutes on each day, improved students’ learning.

Others said moving Christmas and spring breaks would conflict with what is happening in other districts. This could affect students’ participation in sports, art and cultural activities that are scheduled elsewhere.

In order to accommodate the new option, the board has postponed its decision on the matter.

Now, delegations can speak at the March 28 meeting (they must register by noon on March 25), and a final decision will be made on April 18. Both meetings begin at 7:30 p.m. at the school district office at 2790 Tims St.

Online written submissions are accepted until 3 p.m. on April 8.

An updated online survey has also been posted on the school district website. For more information, visit sd34.bc.ca.

Last year, the board voted to return to the education ministry’s standard one-week spring break, which still remains an option for 2011/12.

However, following public outcry, the board reversed its decision, staying with the present two-week holiday.