Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

Vancouver planning year-round school program

The Vancouver School Board may have a cure for the summertime blues -- keeping kids in school. The district is considering implementing a balanced school calendar pilot program in three schools, which would see kids attending school year-round with intermittent breaks, as opposed to a long summer break.

Superintendent Steve Cardwell says research has shown shorter, more frequent breaks are good for vulnerable students because there is less chance of them forgetting what they learned. He says over 15,000 students already take summer courses -- not all of them remedial -- so the district practically has a balanced calendar already.

"Richmond, Maple Ridge, Langley, have got balanced-year calendars, and they seem to be very supportive of them, so why not in Vancouver?" asks Cardwell, referring to other districts in the province that have implemented balanced calendars.

How the calendar will be changed has yet to be determined. In a phone interview with The Tyee, Cardwell mentioned different models the district will consider, including three semesters a year with one-month breaks in between, or six semesters with breaks of two-to-three weeks in between.

Cardwell hopes to begin a pilot program in time for the 2012/13 school year. But first the district will engage parents and school staff in consultations over the idea. Which schools will use the program hasn't been decided, but it's not ideal for every school in the district.

"Some of our schools, of course, are not designed for the hot summers, and if we've got school taking place during July in some of those buildings it could be a challenge," says Cardwell.

The superintendent recognizes there could be roadblocks to the idea beyond parent and teacher concerns, however, including how many minutes of instruction are dictated by the provincial School Act, the scheduling of provincial exams, and the work hours of school support staff. The B.C. office of the Canadian Union of Public Employees has spoken out against balanced calendars before because they can cut down on payable hours for union members who work in schools. Cardwell says that's something the district wants to avoid.

"Some of the collective agreements might define when people come into work, and we need to make sure that we're not affecting the length of the school week, or any of the provisions of summertime vacation, all of those sorts of provisions," he says.

Find more in:

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus