Parents planning holidays and childcare in the next two years will likely be happy that the Vancouver School Board aims to publish both its 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 calendars in the spring.
The board is required to submit next year’s calendar to the Ministry of Education by March 31.
Decisions need to be made about the length of spring break and the coordination of non-instructional, or professional, days. The district calendar committee will bring a proposal to the management coordinating committee meeting Jan. 15, with opportunities for further discussion into February.
The news was part of associate superintendent Scott Robinson’s update to the school board’s management coordinating committee, Dec. 10, on the sectoral review of schools and services that was born out of the 2010 school closure debate. Robinson said the extra notice provided by the calendars is meant to help parents plan holidays and childcare.
The district’s six non-instructional days a year have been scheduled on the same day at each school, a move parents favour, Robinson said. But the board is considering having some of the days coordinated and some not.
“From a teaching perspective and from a professional development perspective, we have a limited number of staff in our district learning services department who are available to work with staff, so when the days are all coordinated, it means that they’re only available to work with limited numbers,” Robinson said. “There are compromise models around that. We just want to make sure that we’re investigating every possibility.”
Timetable changes are expected to start at Tupper secondary in February with semester courses added to the usual roster of full-year courses. This timetable will serve an influx of international students primarily with semester-based English language learning courses.
“Kids in the international program tend to select certain schools or certain areas of the city as their first or second choice, and although we do our best to encourage them to go to other schools, we’re not always able to do that,” Robinson said. “The Tupper program, for example, is really designed to give international kids different options and to hopefully encourage them to try a school that would not have necessarily been their first choice.”
School board staff are looking at its French immersion, Montessori, international baccalaureate and Mandarin immersion programs, collecting and analyzing enrolment data and waiting lists to consider where it could add or move these programs. The board may survey parents to determine whether it’s meeting needs in terms of program location. A related report is to go to the board’s education and student services committee in the spring.
Staff are also reviewing school boundaries in downtown east. He said the review isn’t meant to move families to other schools or rebalance enrolment.
“Sometimes it’s the traffic patterns in the area, sometimes it’s childcare reasons, sometimes it’s school reputation, sometimes it’s what choices schools can offer,” he said.
The board also hopes to provide secondary students access to a common course catalogue in time for the 2013-14 school year.
Students are already able to register in courses at other schools if there’s space.
“It’s not very frequent,” Robinson said. “All we’re doing, really, by offering this catalogue as a single source is showing kids that if they want to, it’s an option.”