Whistler families say yes to two-week spring break 

Schools will be closed March 21-April 1 in 2005

Looks like Whistler families will be getting a longer than usual spring break next year after the majority of parents surveyed voted in favour of the school board’s proposal to run spring break and Easter holidays together.

The survey, tabulated early this week, was sent home to Myrtle Philip, Spring Creek, Ecole La Passerelle, and Whistler Secondary parents earlier in the month.

Of the 193 sent home at Myrtle Philip 117 were returned, with 75 voting yes to the extended break and 42 voting no.

At Spring Creek 170 surveys were sent home. Eighty-two were returned with 45 voting yes and 37 voting no.

Fifty-five surveys were sent home to Ecole La Passerelle parents and 10 were returned. Six surveys were in favour of the longer break and four were opposed.

At Whistler Secondary 51 were returned, with 46 voting yes and five voting no. It isn’t clear how many surveys went home to parents.

"It means that we will certainly not be contesting the school board’s approval for the proposed calendar," said Spring Creek Parent Advisory Council chair Barb Leigh.

"The community has said yes, but there are a whole lot of parents who didn’t like it."

At a recent PAC meeting at Spring Creek most of the parents who attended were absolutely opposed to the calendar change which will see the schools closed from March 21, 2005 to April 1, inclusive.

Schools will also be closed Nov. 12, 2004 as school board officials felt it was likely that parents would take a long weekend as Remembrance Day, Nov. 11, falls on a Thursday.

To make up the lost instructional days teachers will take at least one non-instructional day before students return to school and enough minutes will be added to each grade to make up the three remaining days.

For kindergarten students that means the day will be two minutes longer, and for Grades 1 to 12 the day will be five minutes longer.

Leigh was pleased that the board at its most recent meeting decided to pass a motion that the 2005-06 District Calendar be proposed by Feb 28, 2005. That date would also mark the beginning of the consultation period. This year the calendar was up for scrutiny April 28.

The early start date to the calendar issue is something Leigh has been pushing for.

"This is a great step forward," she said.

The board has also decided to set up a calendar committee comprised of parents, staff, district staff and trustees to discuss and make recommendations on pro-D days and collaboration days. The committee must make those recommendations by Dec 31.

Leigh said the committee would also be able to look at other calendar issues including a four-day week and year-round schooling.

"I certainly feel that all of the concern has moved the board to listen and respond so that in future we won’t have this problem again," said Leigh.

Parent volunteers are needed for this committee.

School superintendent Dr Rick Erickson also announced an initiative to consider the feasibility of a French Immersion program at Spring Creek school to start in the fall of 2005.

The study will run from September to December 2004. In January, said Erickson, a survey will be done to gauge attendance and if the program seems sustainable it could be in place for the 2005-06-school year.

Meanwhile the next secondary school community futures workshop will be held in Whistler June 21 at the secondary school. It starts at 4 p.m.

"It is really to report on what progress has been made," said Erickson, adding that the principal and some parents will likely make reports on what’s been accomplished and what is planned for next year.

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