Saanich school district weighs value of two-week spring break

Decision on longer break for students expected May 2

A decision on spring break is expected Wednesday night during a Saanich school district budget meeting.

The board must find more than $2.8 million to make this year’s budget work and extending spring break from one to two weeks is among the considerations. They face a near-$1 million drop in the operating grant, the same in structural deficit and a recommended $1 million into contingency.

“We have budget pressures that others don’t because of our declining enrolment,” said chair Wayne Hunter. “The government has said they will fund us at 98.5 per cent of what they did last year.”

That works in Saanich’s favour because the drop in student enrolment is expected near the 250 pupil mark, which would reduce the funding more than 98.5 per cent.

With lower enrolment will come fewer teaching positions, about seven is the expectation.

However, a two week spring break and increase in international students are among considerations expected to be finalized tonight.

The extra week of shut down would provide $150,000 in savings.

“None of our employees would lose their pay because we would add eight extra minutes a day,” Hunter said. “Half the districts in British Columbia seem to be doing this successfully.”

Parent Barry Mosher opposes an extra week of spring break for both monetary and educational reasons.

“Wanting a buffer doesn’t mean you have a shortfall,” Mosher said of the budget. “At the end of the day, basically the only thing they’re cutting is this one week of school and they have a 500,000 surplus.” He points to a surplus rolled over from last year – savings that go along with declining enrolment – and holds out questions as to whether the real savings would be $150,000 with an extra week of school closures.

“Even if I accepted their numbers as they are, $150,000 for one week of school is not good savings,” said Mosher, who has two kids attending Deep Cove elementary and one at Bayside middle school. “If I want my kids to be in school because it gives them more time for learning … I think it’s better that kids have more time at school.”

He sees the savings being downloaded onto parents.

“It’s saving the district a little bit and costing parents a whole lot,” he said. “I would like [my kids] to have that week of schooling.”

Nearby Greater Victoria school board already has a two week spring break while last week, Sooke school district rejected the option of extending its break as a cost saving measure.

“The first issue is dealing with budget, do we have a two week spring break or not?” said Hunter.

If they opt for the longer break, they will deal with the topic of when at the May 16 board meeting.

The board expects to make a decision during a special budget meeting Wednesday, May 2 at 7 p.m. at the board office, 2125 Keating X Rd.

Just Posted

Oak Bay police issued these surveillance images after a theft from the Cork & Barrel liquor store. The bottle of stolen whisky was valued at $4,636.99. (Courtesy Oak Bay Police Department)
Suspect swipes $5,000 bottle of whisky from Oak Bay liquor shop

Fiat towed after driver fails field sobriety test

(Black Press Media file photo)
University of Victoria clears parking hurdle for new Indigenous laws building

Oak Bay approves parking variance for new National Centre for Indigenous Laws

Victoria police found and returned this tricycle to a local graphics company after it was reported stolen in downtown Victoria last week. (Photo courtesy of VicPD)
UPDATE: Police find stolen tricycle, return it to Victoria company

The three-wheeler was taken from the 2100-block of Store Street on June 17

Swanwick Ranch in Metchosin, featuring an award-winning home on 67 acres of property overlooking the ocean, recently sold for a record-setting, yet undisclosed amount. (Sotheby’s International Realty Canada photo)
Sale of oceanfront property in Metchosin yields new record for Greater Victoria

Listed at $14.1 million, Swanwick Ranch sold to an undisclosed buyer

Esquimalt businesses will be no longer be able to provide single-use plastic bags at the checkout counter come August as the municipality looks to curb the volume of soft plastics winding up in the landfill. (Black Press Media file photo)
Esquimalt prepares to launch plastic checkout bag ban this summer

Bylaw takes effect Aug. 16, businesses will be unable to provide single-use plastic bags

A person stands in a tower on the perimeter of the Number 3 Detention Center in Dabancheng in western China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on April 23, 2021. Human rights groups and Western nations led by the United States, Britain and Germany accused China of massive crimes against the Uyghur minority and demanded unimpeded access for U.N. experts at a virtual meeting on Wednesday, May 12, 2021 denounced by China as “politically motivated” and based on “lies.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Mark Schiefelbein
VIDEO: Trudeau demands truth from China about Uyghurs

PM says Canada has admitted broken Indigenous relationship, unlike China on Uyghurs

CELEBRATING INDIGENOUS PEOPLES DAY
Council members and witnesses from the Hupacasath First Nation, left, and Tseshaht First Nation, right, prepare to raise their respective flags in front of Port Alberni City Hall on Monday, June 21, 2021. The flags will permanently fly as part of the city’s reconciliation work. See more coverage from the flag raising ceremony on page A5. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Vancouver Island First Nations flags to fly permanently at city hall

Addition of flags are one Port Alberni response to reconciliation

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran, middle right, participates in a ribbon-cutting ceremony in honour of the launch of Kelowna’s plasma donor centre at Orchard Plaza Mall on June 22. From left to right: Canadian Blood Services’ business development manager Janna Pantella, Canadian Blood Services’ operational excellence manager Tyler Burke, Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran and Canadian Blood Services’ centre manager Janine Johns. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
B.C.’s first dedicated plasma donor centre opens in Kelowna

The Kelowna location is the third dedicated plasma donor to open in Canada

Children walk with their parents to Sherwood Park Elementary in North Vancouver for the first day back to school on Sept. 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Study reassures parents, teachers that COVID-19 infrequently shared at school

Federally funded study in Vancouver finds risk in the classroom and in the community identical

Conservative MP Kevin Waugh rises during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday April 13, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Single-game sports betting about to become legal in Canada

Senate passes bill to take sports gambling away from overseas agencies

Point Roberts is part of the mainland United States but not physically connected to it, to reach the community by land one must pass through Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Closed Canadian border leaves Point Roberts’ only grocery store on verge of closure

‘We’re Americans but we’re not attached to America. It’s easy to forget we’re here,’ says owner Ali Hayton

The Somass Sawmill sits idle in early May 2021. While the kilns have been in use occasionally, and the lot has been used to store woodchips this spring, the mill has been curtailed since July 27, 2017. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni to expropriate Somass Sawmill from Western Forest Products

Sawmill has been ‘indefinitely’ curtailed since 2017

Robin Sanford and her fiance Simon Park were married in an impromptu ceremony at Abbotsford Regional Hospital on June 16. (Submitted photo)
Mom dies day after witnessing daughter’s hospital wedding in Abbotsford

Nurses help arrange impromptu ceremony in 3 hours for bride and groom

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson with Premier John Horgan after the budget speech Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. home owner grant won’t be altered, despite expert advice

Tax break for residences worth up to $1.6 million too popular

Most Read