Changes made to the Education Act by the Government of Saskatchewan have resulted in compliance-driven modifications to the Chinook School Division’s 2013-2014 school calendar, including school breaks, and they are seeking the public’s input prior to finalizing the calendar.
“I think it’s just good practice to hear from our parent community,” said Liam Choo-Foo, Chinook’s Director of Education. “The Board received quite a bit of input from the School Community Councils, who are parent representatives, but as we do go through the change I think an opportunity to maybe hear about any unanticipated consequences we’re interested in hearing.”
Key changes include an increase from 920 instructional hours to 950 instructional hours, achieved by adding 10 instructional minutes per day to 184 instructional days, and a vacation in spring no longer than five consecutive school days, but not required to be at Easter.
Legislative changes include a school year start date no earlier than the Tuesday following Labour Day each September, and summer vacations of at least 6 consecutive weeks. Christmas vacation must start no later than December 23 and end no earlier than January 2. Instructional days should be balanced between Semester 1 and 2.
A Chinook Calendar Committee, comprised of teachers and support staff, developed two options for the new school calendar.
“We had a committee of 12 representatives from different functions within the school division that started work in the fall on creating the new calendar,” explained Choo-Foo.
All Chinook staff and School Community Councils (parents and taxpayers) had the opportunity to vote on the two options.
“Those folks looked at all the different parameters that must be met in order to comply with legislation and came up with two options. Those two options were then sent to the staff internally and to our SCCs. As you can see on the [Chinook School Division web] portal, the results were quite overwhelming in favour of the option that was chosen.”
All elected representatives, as well as 79 per cent of Chinook staff and 81 per cent of SCCs, were in favor of the 2013-14 calendar option posted on Chinook’s website for public input.
The proposed calendar has a two-week Christmas break, a five-day February break over the Family Day weekend, a week-long spring break in March and a four-day break at Easter, weekend included. Semester 1 includes 94 instructional days, and Semester 2 has 90, for a total of 184.
In compiling the calendar, consideration was given to a significant number of families that are taking advantage of lower travel rates available during off-peak travel times, most often in March. The March break would benefit both families and schools, with the expectation that children will not be taken out of school during non-break times as often, maximizing student attendance.
Choo-Foo noted that there would be no changes made to the current school year's calendar.
The Chinook School Division would like to receive feedback by March 1. The public is asked to send their thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The calendar can be viewed by visiting https://www.chinooksd.ca/news-archive/3260-changes-in-2013-2014-school-calendar.