School District reviewing school calendar options

Should we make the summer holidays shorter and go to year-round schooling? What about a four-day school week?

Should we make the summer holidays shorter and go to year-round schooling? What about a four-day school week?

Those were just a couple of alternatives for the school calendar that School District 73 would like to get feedback on, according to Karl deBruijn, assistant superintendent with School District 73 (Kamloops-Thompson).

“Give us input. What do you think?” he asked.

There are good arguments for and against all the alternatives, he said.For example, long summer holidays can cause learning regression with some students.On the other hand, it isn’t clear that shortening them would make a big difference in overall student performance.

A four-day school week would result in savings in things like heating. On the other hand, much of the savings would result from reduced hours for support staff such as custodians and bus drivers, something the school board has avoided doing.

There are good arguments for keeping the school calendar much as it is, deBruijn said.

Last April Ministry of Education gave the province’s school districts the power to set their own school calendars.

However, if School District 73 goes on its own and develops a school calendar radically different from the others, then coordinating events such as basketball tournaments could prove difficult.

On a smaller scale, having all the schools within the district working on the same school calendar is a benefit, particularly for smaller rural schools.

Coordinating timetables so that several schools in the district, including Clearwater Secondary School, offer higher level science courses, such as Chemistry 12, at the same time on the same day, means students in the different schools can all work together in one class via video-conference.

One Clearwater parent expressed concern that input from Kamloops might overwhelm that from smaller centers, resulting in a new school calendar that is not suited to rural areas.That was unlikely to happen, said deBruijn.

“The board is not going to impose something that isn’t going to work,” he said.

The school board discussed the matter during a March 6 public input meeting. The meeting was held in Kamloops but people attended by videoconference from Clearwater and Barriere.Public input will be accepted for possible changes to the school calendar for 2014 to 2017 will be accepted until April 5.

“Although that is the deadline, we wouldn’t turn away any input that came later,” said deBruijn. “However, after that date we will begin to analyze the data so we have something to take to the board.”