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Coquitlam district wants input on school calendar

Going slow on changes to the school year is a good idea, says Heidi Hass Gable, a School District 43 parent who also chairs the District Parent Advisory Council. - FILE PHOTO
Going slow on changes to the school year is a good idea, says Heidi Hass Gable, a School District 43 parent who also chairs the District Parent Advisory Council.
— image credit: FILE PHOTO

What should the school year look like?

That's the question many school boards are asking parents, teachers and other school districts in the wake of legislative changes that give school boards more freedom in deciding when breaks and professional days should be. But School District 43 is taking a cautious approach to setting next year's school calendar.

While Langley held an open house this week to ask parents what they thought about year-round schooling and New Westminster added several parents to a district committee to discuss 2013/2014 calendar planning, SD43 is seeking public input via a survey on its website.

And that's just fine for District Parent Advisory Council chair Heidi Hass Gable, who said a thoughtful approach is required before any changes are considered to the school year.

Hass Gable, who is expected to discuss the issue with parents at a DPAC meeting tonight (Wednesday), said many questions need to be answered before the district considers any changes to the way the school year is structured.

"My impression is they are being a little more cautious, let's work out these details, at the same time let's start that consultation process,' said Hass Gable, who took part in an earlier discussion on calendar planning with a district administrator.

She said she learned that there are a lot of unknowns as to how school districts might re-organize their school year. For example, changes to spring break could affect sports and other cross-district activities and it's not known whether the province might consider changing provincial exam schedules.

Hass Gable said those things need to be sorted out before districts can consider making changes to summer, spring and winter breaks regardless of whether people are open to the idea. As well, she said, a March 31 deadline for calendar planning is too short for making any big changes for next year.

"I think they are really thinking it through is my impression rather than change for change's sake. They are being thoughtful, which is what I appreciate about this," Hass Gable said.

Available on the district website, at www.sd43.bc.ca, the survey asks people what they think of dates set for professional development and other school closures, including spring break, for 2013/14. But it also asks people what other calendar structures could be used, although it doesn't mention balanced calendar or year-round schooling, which would offer more frequent breaks and a shorter summer break, but with the same number of instructional days.

dstrandberg@tricitynews.com

 

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