Spring Break 2014 will be cut to one week

District 69 Parksville Qualicum Beach school board makes the decision Tuesday night

First Nations program students

Spring break will only be one week for local students next year.

The board of education voted Tuesday night to pass next year’s school calendar reducing the two-week spring break to one, and the president of the local teachers’ association voiced concerns.

“The question and concern I have for you all tonight is, has the district fulfilled its requirement for a consultation?” said Deb Morran, president of the Mount Arrowsmith Teachers Association (MATA).

Morran, along with representatives from CUPE and the District Parent Advisory Council (DPAC), was given the chance to address questions about the calendar before it was put to vote.

Morran said it’s incumbent upon every school board in the province to undertake a consultation period with all partners, and in doing some research she found that no other district, with the exception of Powell River, has undertaken such a brief consultation process. She also said she doesn’t think a public board meeting is an appropriate place to have a meaningful exchange.

At the last school board meeting, a draft calendar was presented where the two-week break had been amended to one week. Then superintendent, Jim Ansell, said the week was taken away because MATA brought three grievances forward regarding the calendar process and instead of fight them and pay thousands of dollars they returned to the standard calendar of one week.

Morran told The NEWS after the last school board meeting that MATA didn’t necessarily want a one-week break, but did want to be consulted.

Renate Child, Chair of DPAC, said at Tuesday’s meeting the input she’s heard from parents is a desire to keep the two-week spring break, and it saves the district money.

Secretary treasurer Erica Bailey confirmed at the last school board meeting, that if changed back to a one-week break, it would add about another $200,000 to the already $1.2 million budget shortfall for next year.

Board chair Lynette Kershaw said the calendar process this year has been frustrating because the Ministry of Education has changed the deadline. It is normally tied in with the budget, due in a couple of months, but instead is due March 31. She also said a request to change the calendar could be made later.

“Hearing out of the audience last night, if there’s still an inkling that more consultation could be done, then definitely we’ll have to address that.”

Trustee Ross Milligan said he is in favour of the one-week calendar.

“I’m hearing what the parents have to say, but I think that has to be secondary to what’s in the best interest of the students,” said Milligan.

Julie Austin abstained from voting while the other trustees voted to approve the school calendar.