WATCH: We’re approaching the halfway point of spring break, all two weeks of it. The annual pause from classes hasn’t always been this long. Kids may like the extended break, what about the parents? Luisa Alvarez has the story.
The hallways are empty and the classrooms will be as well for another week while students enjoy two weeks off for spring break.
But it hasn’t always been that way.
“I think they should go back to school after one week of having fun and start learning again,” said Mathew Lerosh.
For the Greater Victoria School District, the change to double the time off for spring break came in 2010 to save money.
“One of the reasons certainly was financial reasons so you cut down on individuals needing to be replaced that was one of the reasons back then,” said Mark Walsh, secretary-treasurer for SD61.
Saanich School District extended their spring break in 2013, and the Sooke School District followed suit in 2015.
Anyone with a permanent position within the school districts isn’t affected financially but substitute teachers, fill in custodial and other support staff do miss out on a potential week of shifts. And that’s where the savings come from.
To hire a substitute teacher it’s about $300 a day. In 2010 the estimated savings were $150,000. Now, Walsh said the number is much higher. But he said it’s no longer about the money.
“At this point, I think it’s more what the desire of the system is more than a financial decision,” said Walsh.
Ravi Parmar, school trustee for the Sooke School District, agrees. For Sooke, saving money isn’t a factor either.
“The majority of parents, the majority of our staff have agreed that two weeks spring break is the preferred model,” said Parmar.
Students spend less time in a classroom but the school schedule changed to make up for it.
“We do have a minimum amount of instructional minutes that we have to provide yearly and so with the two weeks spring break, we actually will have longer days,” said Walsh.
But some parents say with the extra week, they are the ones that end up absorbing the cost.
“I was laid off all winter and I got my call back to work and I had to say sorry I can’t start again until April 1. It’s frustrating. It’s like are you kidding me how do you both work full time if your kid isn’t in school anywhere near full time,” said Nicole Knott.
Grandparents play a big role in helping out and for the most part, enjoy it. But if that’s not an option, the extra week can be less of a blessing and more of a burden.
But Walsh said that’s not the feedback they’ve received.
“We have a committee at our school district and what that committee does is it has employee groups as well as parents and they get together and they talk about what the calendar may look like and really we haven’t heard of any pushback into going back to a one-week spring break,” said Walsh.
He said if anyone does have concerns, they want to hear them.
The Greater Victoria School District is currently in the process of finalizing the calendar for the next school year and consulting with the public.
“Please reach out if this is an issue to you,” said Walsh.
To reach the Greater Victoria School District, email [email protected].
Consultation is open until March 26.