Chilliwack school district eyes return to two-week spring break

Chilliwack schools could be getting another two-week spring break for the 2012-13 school year.

Chilliwack schools could be heading back to a two-week spring break next year.

At Tuesday’s school board meeting, district staff were directed by Chilliwack board of education to look into the feasibility of employing a two-week spring break.

The recommendation was made due to spring break falling on the week prior to the Easter long weekend, which would mean students would return to school on the Monday, and be back on holidays for Good Friday four days later.

“If we don’t fly in this direction, many students may be absent from school,” said trustee Walt Krahn. “It could have a number of ripple effects.”

However, the last time the school district imposed a two-week spring break for the 2010-11 school year as a cost-saving measure, it endured great amounts of backlash from several groups.

Most notably from support staff in the district who lost a week’s worth of pay due to the extra week of spring break.

Rod Isaac, president of CUPE Local 411, addressed trustees at Tuesday’s meeting stating that CUPE isn’t opposed to an alternate school calendar, but is opposed to its members losing wages.

Isaac suggested the district set in motion a letter of agreement, which other school districts in B.C. have done, to ensure CUPE members aren’t deprived of a regular week’s pay.

“We are not opposed to an alternate school calendar,” said Isaac. “But we are and always will be opposed to creating an alternate calendar that deprives our members of a regular pay check.”

Trustee Silvia Dyck suggested a two-week spring break could be an opportunity to explore a balanced calendar where the school district subtracts four days from the summer break to make up for the additional days at spring break.

That way no one would lose pay, said Dyck.

However, board chair Louise Piper was cautious to move in this direction.

“We’ve been down this road a couple of times and I am very cognizant of the concerns from the different groups,” said Piper.

“I will support the motion for staff to look into it and come back [with a report] but I still have concerns about it.”

A report will be presented no later than the April 24 board meeting.

~ With files from Tom Fletcher