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REPORTING · 19th March 2010
Merv Ritchie
Video of discussions uploaded below
It was a contentious and difficult communication as Trustee Kilpatrick attempted to get her colleagues to encourage the consideration of a two week spring break. Even the beginning the conversation was met with hurdles by the Chair and other Trustees challenging it as an option.

Trustee Gary Turner supported Kilpatrick stating, “It isn’t a hard decision […] this isn’t a decision to save money, this is a decision to have a longer holiday if you want to leave Terrace. It takes three days to get out of Terrace, stay a week, three days to get back and you can still do your school work.”

Trustee Raj argued about the difficulties they might incur with the Unions and the adjustments that would need to be made. Trustee Erasmus worried about the implications to the 5 day school week he has campaigned on. Chairman Pankhurst felt the motion put forward by Kilpatrick was binding the hands of the Board, committing them to putting forward the two week spring break.

That was during the last board meeting, February 10, 2010. Since then the Calendar committee met twice; on February 18th and March 1 to discuss the proposals for the 2010 – 2011 School year, and the contentious issues proved to be mostly the same. The Unions were concerned about the unpaid days coming so early in the year when they would not have accrued enough holiday pay to carry them through and further that additional days would need to be added for their members to make up the lost wages for the extra five days taken for spring break.

At issue was whether or not a longer spring break would even be put forward for the parents to consider. Some of the details were worked out, such as determining the extra days would be the following week of the current break, that being March 28th to April 1st but the work schedules and compensation was not. It was determined they time could be made up by extending the school day by 8 to 9 minutes.

The two union organizations, CMTF and CUPE, both had pre-conditions to supporting the proposed 2 week spring break, no work out side of the regular school year and alternate work provided on Non-Instructional days. With the Board being unable to provide these assurances in advance of the public consultation it was determined to be a virtual stalemate.

The issue ended at the last Board meeting, Wednesday March 17 with the Board deciding not to provide the option to the public for consultation. The calendar is now determined to have Spring break a one week period between March 21st and 25th. Christmas Break is December 20th to January 3rd with seven professional development days scattered throughout the school year.

The desire to have a two week spring break as is enjoyed by other School Districts across British Columbia has been discussed in the past. During the return to the five day School week discussions in Kitimat last April these same concerns were raised. Read those debates here.

Watch the Trustees debate the issue, with Kilpatrick attempting to initiate the proposal, at the February board meeting HERE.
wise final decision
Comment by bill (braam) on 21st March 2010
Ok and good grief, I feel very strongly that one week is more than sufficient for spring break. As for giving families a longer time for a spring holiday I would ask how it would be possible for every families bread-winner(s) to vacate their job, all at the same time, who is left to be working. As for the hourly paid support staff, how can they afford to have their wages suspended for a forced two week break. And think of our place in the world economy, how can we afford to stay competetive in the world when we take another week of learning away from the students? China and India are about to take over as world economies, we cannot afford to lessen our efforts to train students for their future places in the economy. We need to intensify our efforts in developing brain power. I would suggest going back to combining spring break with Easter break to give even more insructional time. As for one trustees suggestion of 'adding minutes to other instructional days' I would say 'Are you serious?'. If I was to suggest to my employer a scheme such as this I would trigger some sort of laughing fit.
We need to take our school system a little more seriously, I think other countries have much longer and intesified learning environments and are producing better students who in turn are being more productive in their countries economies. We need more instructional days and more in-depth learning for our country to survive in the world economy. Thank you.