Teachers’ union says two-week spring break issue not dead

KTTA members were surprised when trustees voted down a motion to continue with a two-week spring break

Dale Bass – Kamloops This Week

Teachers are pleased the Kamloops-Thompson board of education is asking for more input on its proposed school calendars, said David Komljenovic.

The president of the Kamloops-Thompson Teachers’ Association (KTTA) said his members were surprised last month when trustees voted down a motion to continue with a two-week spring break, something that was introduced for a three-year pilot in 2014.

He said a decision last week by trustees to ask for more feedback means the issue is not dead.

Komljenovic said he and his members were surprised at the motion’s defeat on Jan. 16 since School District 73 administration and the KTTA at the time were discussing a contract proposal to continue the longer break and were looking at ways the additional time could be made up within the school year.

The proposal went to trustees on Jan. 16 with a recommendation that the board approve the two-week break for calendars running from 2017 to 2020 school years. Trustees then voted 4-3 to go with a one-week break, based on feedback from the school district’s Thought Exchange program online. The decision sparked plenty of feedback from parents and teachers, many of whom accused the board of ignoring responses.

At last week’s board meeting, trustees voted to post calendars for the 2017 through 2020 school years showing a one-week spring break in order to obtain more feedback from the public. The calendars will be available online in the next few days at sd73.bc.ca and a link will be provided to send feedback.

Written responses can also be mailed to 1383 – 9th Avenue, Kamloops, B.C. V2C 3X7.

Trustees are scheduled to conduct a final vote on a one- or two-week break at their March 13 meeting. Komljenovic believes a two-week break “is on the table.”

He made a presentation to the board at its Feb. 6 meeting, flanked by about two-dozen teachers. Presenting a petition with more than 700 names, Komljenovic said board surveys of partner groups showed a majority in favour of taking two weeks of vacation in the spring.

He said teachers sometimes use the two-week period for extended field trips or sports events.

Komljenovic referenced research from the University of British Columbia looking at the impact of a two-week break on students. He said that study showed students returned to class more refreshed and ready to learn.

The Kamloops-Thompson school district has only had a two-week spring break since the 2014-2015 school year. Its calendar before then included one-week breaks.

Most school districts in B.C. have a two-week spring break. According to the Ministry of Education, only seven of the 60 districts in the province have a one-week March vacation.