EDITORIAL: Standardize the school calendar

Across the Lower Mainland school board trustees – including Abbotsford’s – are grappling with the issue of what school calendar best suits their district.

Across the Lower Mainland school board trustees – including Abbotsford’s – are grappling with the issue of what school calendar best suits their district.

It’s a time-consuming, highly controversial process, the necessity itself debatable, considering the ministry of education set a standard one-week break long ago – and then allowed school boards to change the program.

Abbotsford has been on a two-week spring break for several years, having added eight minutes to every elementary school day and nine to the secondary day to compensate for lost days. Now trustees have frustrated many parents and teachers with a suggestion of moving the Christmas break, moving spring break and reducing the number of days off.

Such a schedule would add more than $400,000 in costs to pay for the additional instruction days. Against a backdrop of school closures and tight budgeting, that plan questions the principle of financial stewardship.

Other boards are also changing their calendars and there may soon be little consistency across the province, or even the region. Langley and Maple Ridge school districts are looking at lengthening their school day and adding a week at spring break, in order to save money. Vancouver added 10 days off and lengthened the school day to save $1.2 million. Meanwhile, Chilliwack is considering a return to a one-week spring break.

There is a standard school calendar set out by the education ministry, which presumably contained sound reasoning in its creation.

However, if factors have changed, and there are significant savings to be realized in two-week spring breaks, then let the education ministry investigate this potential, considered alongside education concerns, and render a decision that will become standard for the province.

Enough district tinkering.