No two-week spring break for Chilliwack kids next year

Chilliwack school board decides against adding a second week to spring break for the 2012-13 school year.

Next year will still just be a one-week spring break for Chilliwack students.

Despite all indicators leaning towards a two-week spring break being implemented for the 2012-13 school year, Chilliwack trustees were advised at Tuesday’s meeting to continue with the status quo.

Superintendent Michael Audet said he felt more discussion between district staff and the Chilliwack Teachers’ Association (CTA) was required in order to make a well-informed decision. However, because local school calendars must be passed no later than May 31 every year, “this deadline does not allow time for further discussions,” he said.

The school district started looking into the feasibility of implementing an extended spring break in February 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.

An online survey was conducted on the school district’s website seeking input from parents, students, employees and other partner groups.

The survey had 2,421 total responses. Nearly half the responses were from parents, of which 78 per cent were in favour.

Of the 399 support staff that responded, 74 per cent were in favour. And of the 412 teachers that responded, 95 per cent were in favour.

However, despite the positive response from teachers, district staff fell short in negotiating terms to enable a two-week spring break with the teachers’ union.

The union expressed concerns about the impact a two-week spring break would have on student learning, as well as concerns regarding the concessions an extended spring break would have on their collective agreement.

At the meeting, CTA president Katharin Midzain said a two-week spring break at this time could create more problems than it was worth.

She suggested the board revisit the idea after collective bargaining starts up again next March.

Despite voting in favour of not extending next year’s spring break, trustee Walt Krahn expressed dismay over the decision.

“I am very, very disappointed this did not work out for us,” Krahn said. “Speaking from a former school administrator’s position, I am sure schools will experience a very, very high absenteeism during those four days [before Good Friday].”

The only two trustees to vote in opposition were Barry Neufeld and Martha Wiens.