Board of education approves status quo calendar

The Abbotsford school district will continue with its existing schedule for another year.

Kevin Godden

Kevin Godden

The Abbotsford board of education has voted in favour of keeping the current calendar for the 2013/14 school year, but trustees want to look at other options past that.

The vote means school will begin the day after Labour Day (Sept. 3) and there will be a two-week spring break next year, running March 17 to 28.

The board had considered one other option – starting school a week earlier, on Aug. 27, and adding an extra day to four existing long weekends.

Most of the trustees agreed at their public meeting on Tuesday night to side with the 77 per cent of respondents in an online survey who supported maintaining the status quo.

Shirley Wilson was the only trustee to vote against keeping the current calendar.

“This whole conversation is about what adults are hoping for and wanting … I still can’t support it because I think we can do better,” she said.

Starting school a week earlier was considered as an option to better balance the two high school semesters.

Currently, the first semester is shorter than the second, based on the MInistry of Education designating the last week of January as provincial exam week.

Abbotsford school district superintendent Kevin Godden said the ministry has refused to move the exam dates, forcing districts to look at alternatives for a balanced calendar.

Another issue that has been discussed is the impact that a nine-week-long summer break has on “vulnerable” students who can’t afford that much time away from the classroom.

The board agreed that discussions on solving these issues should include parents, and they decided to begin the process in October for the 2014/15 school year.

“When we’re talking about 21st century learning, the calendar has to be dealt with where we, as adults, stop making the calendar about us and our needs and make it about what’s best for kids,” said trustee Korky Neufeld.

Trustees also agreed that the matter should include discussions with other districts – for example, to ensure that holidays are scheduled at the same time so that events such as sports tournaments and cultural activities aren’t impacted.

The school calendar issue has been a contentious one in the past.

The board of education faced a public backlash in 2010, when it voted to return to a one-week spring break the following year. Trustees later reversed that decision.

The board again faced a public outcry in 2011, when it proposed moving spring break from March to April to coincide with the Easter Long weekend, and holding Christmas vacation later.

Trustees again voted to maintain the status quo, as they did again last year.