Vancouver School Board considers extended spring break
The Vancouver School Board says it is reluctantly considering a two-week spring break for elementary and secondary school students to help balance an $18-million budget shortfall.
The plan would add a total of 10 non-instructional days to the school year, to be balanced by lengthening school days by 16 minutes for elementary students and 18 minutes for secondary students.
Board chair Patti Bacchus told CTV News that there was no positive spin to put on the proposal.
"It's not an educationally based decision," she said. "It's certainly not something we would look at as being beneficial to students."
The extra vacation days – five to be added to spring break, five to be dispersed throughout the year – would trim an estimated $1.3-million of the budget shortfall through saved salary and transportation costs.
But board members would still need to consider a "whole menu of unpalatable options" to cover the rest, Bacchus said.
Possible cost-cutting measures include reducing school libraries, counselors, special education support, vice principals and teacher layoffs.
"We're looking at the least awful options, and that's a really sad place to be."
Reactions from Vancouver's Parent Advisory Council have been split, according to vice-chair Gwen Giesbrecht.
"We heard from a number of parents who were not in favour," she said. "They were concerned about how they would deal with the increased cost, how to occupy the kids through the day."
The prolonged spring break has already been tried in Surrey and Victoria, to mixed reviews.
The school board will vote on the proposal on April 26, following a public meeting scheduled for April 20.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Leah Hendry