Parents and stakeholders urged to return school survey 

Board of school trustees seeking help scheduling 2014 spring break

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SURVEY SOLUTION School officials want feedback by Jan. 11 on when the 2014 spring break should occur and how long the break should be.

Parents and anyone else with a stake in when Sea to Sky schools schedule spring break in 2014 have until Jan. 11 to complete a survey on the timing of the break.

The school officials are looking at four options. The first two options are a one-week break at the traditional time or a week break around Easter. The other two options are to have a two-week break at the traditional time or a two-week break around Easter.

The survey can be found at https://www. surveymonkey.com/s/JC67W6G. Paper copies are available at all the schools in the district.

Betsy Linnell of the Signal Hill Elementary School Parent Advisory Council (PAC) said she feels it is important for Pemberton parents to fill out the survey, so the board of trustees hears the feelings of Pemberton residents.

"Each community has different needs," said Linnell.

She said the needs of the people of Pemberton vary between groups like Pemberton workers, people who work in Whistler, First Nations, farmers and entrepreneurs.

"The needs of the Pemberton community are really broad," said Linnell.

"To get an accurate picture we need all those different groups to participate," added Linnell

Melanie Jones of the Myrtle Philip PAC said the traditional school spring break doesn't work well for many resort workers who are very busy at that time because the resort is full of visitors and workers can't get away.

"I think that if we can get as many people as possible to respond to this it will be a future tool that we can use to get our voice heard," said Jones.

This is exactly what the school officials are looking for before making a decision on the timing of the spring break in 2014.

"Hopefully people will do the survey and voice their opinion so that we can make a difference," said Jones.

For Tanya Sinnes, a Don Ross Secondary parent in Squamish, the issue isn't as pressing for her and other high school parents.

She said there are fewer people with child care concerns at the secondary level. Sinnes said she's looking forward to broader discussions this spring when year-round schooling and the length of each school day can be explored.

"In my opinion, (up to) nine weeks in summer is just too much," said Sinnes.

The feeling she's getting from her friends is that there just isn't a significant amount of interest in the current spring break survey, but there is more interest in the next discussion about the bigger picture issues relating to school calendars.

She noted that there are a number of Squamish students, her daughter being one, going to school on the North Shore to take advantage of shortened school days so they can focus on fine arts or athletic pursuits.

Ian Kent, the assistant superintendent of schools, has indicated that once a decision is made on spring break in 2014 there will be broader discussions about school calendars in the future.

He confirmed that the discussion is expected to begin this spring following a provincial announcement indicating schools and school district leaders will have more scheduling flexibility in the future.

The finalized 2013/2014 calendar has to be submitted to the education ministry by March 31. A proposed calendar has to be made available a month ahead of that date, so stakeholders can see what school officials are planning to submit to the province.

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