The Vancouver School Board has voted in favour of cutting 10 classroom days from the 2010-2011 school year to help balance an $18-million shortfall.

The plan will also end early Friday dismissals, and add 16 minutes of instruction per day for elementary students and 18 minutes per day for secondary students.

Five days will be added to the existing spring break in March, and another five will be added throughout the year on the following days:

  • October 8
  • November 12
  • February 11
  • February 14
  • May 20

The changes were only approved for one year. The VSB estimates it will save about $1.3-million under the plan.

The board will vote on more controversial cuts on Thursday, including teacher layoffs, reductions in special education support and cuts to the band program.

An extended spring break is already in effect in Surrey, B.C., one of the province's fastest growing school districts.

Board spokesman Doug Strachan says about $100,000 is saved per non-instructional day through staff costs, lighting, electricity and heating.

Before implementing the proposal, the Surrey School Board asked parents for input. Of the 250 emails they received, Strachan said 170 were in favour.

"Generally parents thought that it was the least of all the options as far as impact, and they chose it because they wanted to preserve programs," Strachan said.

Those that opposed the plan said they were unable to take extra time off work, or find affordable child care. The board addressed their concerns by partnering with community groups to provide full-day programs and activities. The board paid for lunches.

The Abbotsford School Board has had a two-week spring break for the past eight years, but on Monday decided to decrease to one week. Trustees said adding eight minutes to every day to make up the lost time was not in the best interest of students.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Leah Hendry