Trustees want more data to see if it’s worth keeping the district’s two-week spring break in March in future years.
District staff presented a report at Monday’s Board of Education meeting recommending approval for the proposed two-week spring break for the 2013-2014 school year. Staff received approval for next year’s two-week spring break, but the matter will be reviewed annually in years to come, as part of the school year calendar consultation.
The board is looking for more information to evaluate the impact two weeks has on students’ wellbeing.
“We’re looking for more data to show that it’s really making a difference,” said board chair Donna Sargent.
A two-week spring break improves the wellness of staff and students, meets the needs of the community and achieves desired cost savings, according to the report.
It cited an estimated savings of $155,500 in energy and employee absentee costs for 2012, down from $160,000 in 2011.
But concerns were raised whether this move was really best for all the students.
“Thirty per cent of children live in poverty and their parents can’t afford to take them away during spring break,” said Sargent. “These comments were raised in the surveys, but on mass, people (73 per cent of parents) were supportive.”
The board plans to work with community centres and daycares to develop out-of-school programs for students whose parents need to work during the two weeks.
This school year comes with a particularly long spring break due to the early arrival of Easter weekend, which means two more days will be tagged onto the end of the break.
“The money we save from energy costs, etc. wouldn’t go into creating these services because of our K-12 mandate,” said Sargent.
Sargent said the board also wasn’t fully convinced the impact on wellness and finances is that significant.
“Specifically we’re looking for data on wellness and student achievement,” she said. “Not a large cost savings was realized so we also want to see if there’s more savings to be made in transportation costs, etc.”
The board decided that future spring break consultation would be ruled into the regular school calendar consultation in coming years, according to Sargent, which means it won’t be a separate item nor be subjected to surveys.