Saturday April 19, 2014

District would offer programs if longer spring break goes ahead

Joan Cowden

An extra week off at spring break won't cost parents more on day care as the Kamloops-Thompson School District pledged Monday to host programs and activities to entertain children.

To do this, the school district will partner with day cares, the Boys and Girls Club and 4H, said Joan Cowden, a trustee and chairwoman of the district’s education committee

She said high school students who feel they might fall behind could be offered tutorials.

"We want to make sure families have some alternatives," said Cowden, adding the extra week off comes with challenges.

Of the province's 60 school districts, 43 offer a two-week spring break. Cowden isn't aware of another district that provides such alternatives.

"I think most families will be in favour of that approach," she said.

Trustees don’t vote on the new school calendar until Jan. 13. Supt. Terry Sullivan said this gives teachers and support staff a chance to provide input.

If approved, committees will be formed to evaluate if the new calendar — which takes nine minutes from lunch breaks to allow the extra week off — is educationally sound. This was vice chairwoman Kathleen Karpuk's chief concern.

Sullivan said quality education must be maintained.

"I realize that's a concern and there may be others we will have to consider," he said.

Trustees were also told the longer break isn’t a necessity.

"It's not an educational tragedy if we don't get a two-week spring break. It's OK if we stay with what we have," said Sullivan.

The province gave school districts the authority to set their own school calendars in 2012. Consultations carried out by the district's education committee afterward revealed about 80 per cent of parents, students and staff want a longer spring break.

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