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District welcomes input on year-round classes

Suzanne Hoffman - submitted photo
Suzanne Hoffman
— image credit: submitted photo

Langley School District is looking at changing the school calendar to year-long schooling or a variation of it.

But first, they want your input.

An open house will be held at the Langley School Board office from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. tonight, Jan. 29, just ahead of the Board of Education meeting at 7 p.m.

With new provincial legislation opening up the opportunity to change the school calendar, the district wanted to start that conversation, said Superintendent Suzanne Hoffman.

“This is all about what is best for our students and should we look at changing the calendar to reach best achievement? It’s our sincerest intention, both staff and the board to engage the public and get their feedback,” said Hoffman. “If there is a resounding no then we won’t do it.”

Since the announcement last week about looking at year-round schooling, social media sites have been buzzing with many parents and teachers asking questions, having concerns and some looking forward to a change.

“We recognized there are implications to changing the school year, in and around daycare, family holidays and student jobs and camp,” said Hoffman.

“But that’s why we would not implement change right away and spend time working with the broader community, like the municipality, for example, to alter camp schedules.”

Hoffman said there would be a lot of work to be done, even around the unions, to implement a new calendar.

The three possibilities are: to keep the current calendar as it is with the already approved two week spring break; to have year-round schooling which means instead of 10 weeks away in the summer, there would be vacation periods throughout the year; the last option is a balanced calendar with three-week spring break and three week winter break.

So far, only Douglas Park Community School has a varied calendar with an extended school year into July.  It’s proving to be very popular and has helped improve children’s learning because of the continuum of education, Hoffman said in an earlier interview.

The district wants to stress that no changes will be made for next year. Implementation would take place the following school year 2014/2015.

A final decision would be made at the March 12 board meeting. The provincial government is giving districts until March 31 to decide, said Hoffman.

A balanced calendar or year-long schooling doesn’t mean any fewer days of instruction. Students will still go to school 186 days of the year, with six non-instructional days, said the district.

The district would like to implement calendar changes across all Langley schools at once, but is open to having it take place at requested schools only.

The district has a Q&A on their website as well as an area where people can submit their comments. The Q&A addresses concerns over how it will work for sports teams, student summer jobs and daycare.

The district won’t benefit financially from changing the calendar, nor is it expected to cost taxpayers more, said Hoffman.

According to research the district has done and is posted to their website, there isn’t any proven benefits or negatives to year-round schooling.

“But if inter-sessions are included, then achievement is improved,” she said.

A year-round elementary school in Maple Ridge, Kanaka Creek, has reported improved learning through the continuum of education, with a more even keeled calendar without the stop and start that takes place in the summer.

See sd35.bc.ca for all the details.

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