Sooke Board of Education has voted to keep its spring break one week long and not extend it to two weeks, as other districts have.
Board chair Wendy Hobbs said that there is no concern on the part of the board about the district being out of step with the Greater Victoria School District, which has a two week break.
“Not at all. We weren’t doing this decision to stay in line with the other school districts,” Hobbs said. “For us it was an individual school district decision and we just felt that there were not enough compelling reasons to change it at this point.”
Input from the public came in a number of ways. Hobbs said that responses were split fairly evenly in regards to arguments for or against extending the break, but ultimately the board did not believe there to be a valid reason to make a change.
“Nothing really convinced us that going to a two-week break was beneficial at this point.”
This may be a moot point, however, as it looks like the structure of the entire school year will soon be reexamined.
Last week the Ministry of Education announced that it is scraping the standard school year calendar.
The move is intended to give districts more flexibility in how they schedule their year and has the potential to bring an end to standard summer holidays in some districts.
A minimum number of instructional hours will stillneed to be met.
“Enabling greater flexibility and choice is a key component of B.C.’s Education Plan,” Education Minister George Abbot said in a press release. “These amendments to the School Act will provide school districts with additional tools to support personalized learning.”
Hobbs said that the Sooke board of education will discuss forming a committee at its next meeting, on May 22, to look into the decision and decide how to approach the change.
Before that happens Hobbs couldn’t speculate on if the district will make any changes to its teaching schedule.
“All I can really say at this point,” Hobbs said, “is that next board meeting the trustees will discuss setting up a committee to learn about the new way of doing the school calendar and that we will get all of our partners in the education community to take part in it and see where it goes from there.”
Sooke Teachers’ Association president Patrick Henry said changes to the school year isn’t a new idea and he questions the Education Ministry’s timing for making the announcement.
Considering that teachers and the government are in the middle of a legislated one-year “cooling off” period, Henry said it’s inappropriate to be introducing such changes.
“It’s something that cries out for consultation,” Henry said. “For the government to arbitrarily throw out the suggestion that we’re going to move into year-round schooling without fulsome public debate seems ludicrous. It seems like it’s been presented as a fait accompli, not a discussion paper.”