Students could get an extra five days off during the next school year if Kamloops-Thompson school trustees approve a district proposal for a two-week spring break.
Trustees receive and discuss the school calendar report during a board meeting Monday night. The district is still waiting for feedback from the local teacher and support staff unions, Supt. Terry Sullivan said Thursday.
The report has been in union hands for a month, but Sullivan wants trustees to see it in order to give parents some idea if they will have extra time with their children during the 2014-2015 school year.
He said parents often ask a year ahead of time when Christmas or spring break will happen so they can plan holidays.
“We really want to make a determination one way or the other, as early as we can,” said Sullivan.
“We’re hoping both unions will let us know and give us an indication as soon as possible whether they want to approve this or don’t want to approve it.”
Kamloops-Thompson Teachers’ Association president Jason Karpuk and CUPE Local 3500 president John Hall could not be reached for comment.
The province gave school districts the authority to set their own school calendars in 2012. Sullivan said consultations carried out by the district’s education committee afterward revealed a majority — about 80 per cent — of parents, students and staff want a longer spring break.
In order to meet contractual and educational requirements, the committee needs to maintain set days when the school year begins and ends and when holidays occur. For example, the first day of school is always the Tuesday after Labour Day.
School districts are also required to ensure a minimum number of instructional hours are met, said Sullivan. In order to add a week at spring break, the district will shorten every lunch hour by nine minutes.
“That means we don’t have to change bus schedules or start-up times. The dismissal times are exactly as they were,” he said.
School board chairwoman Denise Harper anticipates the board will vote on the matter in January. She said trustees expect more feedback from district stakeholders, particularly the union locals.
“We want to hear from our teaching staff,” said Harper.
If approved, the two-week break won’t cost the district extra money or require staff to work longer hours, she said.
The possibility of a longer spring break surprised parents at Stuart Wood elementary. Some thought this might pose a challenge to working parents who rely on daycare while others embraced spending more time with their children.
Aric Tomada is a stay-at-home dad with two kids at the school. He said the longer break would give students time to recuperate before the home stretch of the school year.
“At the same time, parents get to hang out with their kids, which you don’t get to do very much if you’re a working parent,” he said.
Forty-three of the province’s 60 school districts have a two-week break in the spring.