Monday, February 24, 2014

School District 52 seeks public consultation on 2015 spring break proposals

When School District 52 holds its annual public Budget Consultation in March, one topic on the agenda may dominate much of the public commentary process.

As part of the discussion at the March 12th session, the School District will introduce two drafts of a schedule for the 2014-15 School Year, with two options for a Spring break in March of 2015.

The first provides for a one week break tentatively set to run from March 16th to 20th, the second providing for a two week break from studies, with a suggestion that Spring Break could run from March 16th to 27th.

Other than the two calendar proposals, information provided by the School District as to the reasons for an extension of the school break calendar is rather scant.  With little to be found outlining what impact it may have on the students studies, or on the issues it may raise for parents, who may not themselves be able to take two weeks away from their work duties at that time.

That lack of information so far, makes the public consultation a valuable forum for the School District to gauge interest in the two proposals. High attendance will send a message to the School District that this is a topic that deserves a fairly thorough examination.

Low attendance may give the impression that parents have little interest in the issue either way, leaving any decisions to be made to the personal inclinations of the members of the Board.

However, for any "consultation" to succeed, the School District needs to engage the public more than it usually does, which in most cases seems to be just letting parents know that a meeting is on and what time to show up.

For the School District to gain full value for their consultation, beyond a calendar draft, they should provide a more extensive review of the topic for parents on the topic

If there is an educational case (which is the domain and main purpose of the School District after all) to make for the two week break, that should be explained in full.

One important aspect of the proposal, is how the School District would make up the missing five days of instructional time and that is something which should be explained in detail as well.

The thoughts of the Prince Rupert District Teachers Union could be helpful to that theme, offering up for the discussion their impressions on the topic of a spring break extension. Among those thoughts perhaps, what it may all mean when it comes to the classroom and the year long education plan they have developed for their students.

If School District members have concerns over the length of a two week break, they should offer up their research on the topic in public, giving parents the opportunity to gain a better understanding of what it all may mean for their children that attend the District schools.

Other than of course, the need to either take their own extra vacation time, or make arrangements for child care during the extended spring break period.

After all of the facts are made public, it may even require the School District to seek the decision of the parents (perhaps overlooked here as the most important stakeholder in this discussion) by way of a referendum for a final decision on the subject.

The School District will find how much the topic resonates with the public, when they hold their Budget Consultation session on March 12th at 7 PM at the Charles Hays Multi-Purpose Room.

At the moment, the only research material available for parents would appear to be this calendar draft on the School District website,

For a more reasoned and full discussion, the School District should make use of their website (something they don't seem to do very much) and perhaps make available for parents a small printed primer on the topic.

Making copies of it available at local schools for parents to take home and study before next month's consultation session takes place. Delivering as much information on the topic as possible and hopefully providing for a full discussion when March 12th comes around.

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