Prince George parents who don't like having their kids off school for two full weeks in March will have to learn to like it -- the two-week spring break will return in 2014, and again in 2015.
School District 57 trustees voted unanimously at Tuesday's public meeting to approve the district's school calendar for 2013-14, which is virtually a carbon copy of the current calendar. Although it was well within the school board's right to develop a schedule radically different from the traditional framework most schools follow, one that would allow for year-round schooling, it's not in the cards for next year.
In April 2012, the education ministry introduced changes to the School Act which handed over control of school calendars to the province's 60 individual school districts. Prior to the current school year, each district was required to follow a province-wide September-June calendar which dictated the length of Christmas holidays, when spring break was scheduled and the duration of that break.
For 2013-14, school boards had the opportunity to consult with staff, parents, students and community organizations to create their own calendars, but trustee Tim Bennett said more time was needed before the board would consider any alternate calendars. All school boards are required to approve their calendars by March 31.
"I know there is concern with a two-week spring break about the additional child care costs, which might be a difficult burden to overtake," said Bennett. "But throughout the process, there has been overwhelming support for the two-week spring break and I support the decision the board made [Tuesday night] to approve that."
Next school year, students will return from summer vacation on Sept. 4, break for Christmas from Dec. 20-Jan. 6, have spring break from March 21-30, and June 26 will be their last day of classes.
The two-week break will also be scheduled in 2015. That decision was made by the previous board of trustees two years ago to allow students to participate in the 2015 Canada Winter Games, which the city will host, Feb. 15-March 1, 2015.
B.C. schools are required to offer a minimum number of hours of instruction between July 1 and June 30 -- 843 hours for kindergarten students, 878 hours for students in grades 1-7, and 953 hours for those in grades 8-12.
Advocates of the year-round program say it allows students to retain more of what they learned in class and teachers don't have to go over as much review work after summer vacation. Kanaka Creek elementary school in Maple Ridge currently offers a balanced calendar with one-month breaks December and April and August. While the new law gives school boards the chance to explore year-round schooling, no Prince George school has indicated to the board their community wants it.
"There has been no discussion around year-round schooling at this time," said Warrington. "The legislation allows board to anticipate and have those conversations but there has been nothing."
n Secretary-treasurer Bryan Mix attended his last school board meeting Tuesday in his current position and his 24 years of service were acknowledged by the board. As of March 31, the day he retires, he will be replaced by Allan Reed. See Thursday's Citizen for more.