B.C. families will have more time to plan with new calendar regulations for school districts launched this week as part of Bill 36.
Bendina Miller, superintendent of School District 5, said the new calendar regulations set forth by the Ministry of Education will allow greater flexibility for school districts to plan their calendars including the ability to set a calendar for three years in advance.
Public consultation has always been an important part of planning for the next school year, but Miller said it will now have a deadline of March 31 instead of May so that families will know what the next year holds much sooner.
“By March 31 parents can know what the calendar is for the next year,” Miller said.
Under provincial law, children in kindergarten must be in school for 853 hours, Grade 1 to 7 for 878 hours and Grade 8 to 12 for 950 hours. Miller said the calendar must meet that minimum number of hours, but how they plan those out is up to each individual district.
“How we spread those hours out is flexible,” she said.
According to the Ministry of Education, the new regulations mean school districts will be able to determine the number and dates of days in session, the number and dates of each non-instructional day, the dates of vacation periods and the dates of each non-instructional day.
Miller said SD5 utilized a more flexible calendar in recent years to allow students to have every other Friday off by adding minutes to the end of the other days in the year.
“We’ve always been in compliance with the former calendar regulations,” she said.
Consultations have always included parents and staff, and that will of course continue according to Miller. What has changed is the deadline and more guidelines for school boards should they choose to adopt a year-round schooling system. Miller said the consultations will be open for parents and staff to comment, and they will take any recommendations very seriously.
“We would go into the consultations with an open mind,” she said.
The district received the new regulations on Sunday and will work through them before the consultations begin so that parents will be fully aware of the new changes and what’s available to them and their children. There are currently no dates set for the public consultations but Miller said the district will announce them later on.