Penticton school days may extend

School days may be stretched by five minutes next year to make up for time lost.

School days may be stretched by five minutes next year to make up for time lost due to a community-wide sporting event and rescheduled professional-development days for teachers.

According to a draft calendar prepared by staff at the Okanagan Skaha School District, classes would begin Sept. 8, 2015, and finish June 29, 2016.

In between, there would be two-week Christmas and spring breaks, plus five pro-D days and a two-day break at the end of February when local schools are turned over to the 2016 B.C. Winter Games.

Assistant superintendent Dave Burgoyne told trustees at their regular meeting Monday the proposed calendar would require days be lengthened to meet School Act requirements for instructional time.

“That five minutes a day over and above this year is a total of 10 minutes (increase) from the 2013-14 calendar, when we had all five pro-D days in the summertime,” he said.

Teachers in past years agreed to undertake professional development during the last week of August in order to get a two-week spring break, but have recently asked to take the time during the school year so their training is ongoing.

“Having the pro-D days spread out through the calendar makes a lot of sense,” said Trustee Bruce Johnson.

“If you can sequence the pro-D throughout the year, it’s a big advantage to our teachers, our staff and ultimately our students.”

Okanagan Skaha Teachers’ Union president Leslea Woodward is also pleased with the draft calendar and said it matches a proposal she delivered to the district.

Partner groups, such as parent advisory committees, will now be asked to comment on the calendar proposal. The finalized version must be completed by March 31.

A copy of the calendar and information about providing feedback is available on the school district website at www.sd67.bc.ca.