Two-week spring break would save $250K a year, consultations underway

Burnaby school board chair Baljinder Narang -
Burnaby school board chair Baljinder Narang
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Burnaby school district is moving ahead with public consultations on the idea of a two-week spring break.

"It's not a done deal at all," said school board chair Baljinder Narang.

A two-week spring break would save the district about $250,000 a year, savings which are "fairly modest," she said.

Then again, the district has projected shortfalls of $6.6 million for 2013-2014 and $7.6 million for $2014-2015 which need to be considered.

The district has had conversations with the District Parent Advisory Council and partner groups, and now has an online survey people can use to provide input.

A public forum on the issue will be held Thursday, Feb. 21, 7 p.m. at Schou Education Centre, 4041 Canada Way.

Burnaby and New Westminster are the only districts in Metro Vancouver which still have one-week spring breaks.

Despite the cost savings, Narang stressed that the main reason the two-week break is being considered is its impact on families.

With many parents and teachers working in different municipalities from where they live or where their children attend school, the different schedules can pose challenges when scheduling family vacations or time off.

"We're putting it out there, to say, does it make sense for Burnaby," she said. "And there's pressure from other communities to say, look you need to come into sync with us. We're just looking to see if there's a will within the community to move in this direction."

If Burnaby adopted the two-week break, it would consider making up the time the same way as most other districts have, by adding eight minutes a day to the elementary schedule and nine minutes per day for high school students.

With the education ministry now allowing districts to set their own calendars, Burnaby will also look into the idea of year-round schooling—eventually.

That concept is "on the backburner," Narang said, with the spring break issue its priority right now.

She noted that year-round schooling does not have to be district-wide and some schools are more interested in it than others. Meanwhile, Burnaby is watching other districts to see how their experience with it goes.

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