New start date ties division’s hands

By Rhonda Cooper

Students in K-12 will enjoy one more week of summer when the 2012-2013 school reconvenes after the Labour Day long weekend.

The provincial government is following through on its election promise by introducing legislation to postpone students’ return to the classroom. The proposed legislative change means school divisions will have to rework their calendar templates in order to accommodate the 197 teacher days and 185 student contact days.

“It has tied our hands a bit,” said Duane Hauk, Director of Education of the Northwest School Division. “We will need to reconfigure our calendars so we can determine what is best for our students, our teachers, parents and communities. We will have to look at different ways of doing things.”

Hauk noted there are parameters set out by the Department of Education, such as after Easter there has to be a five-day break, that must be followed. Final exams for senior students are also set by the Ministry so it is up to the school division to effectively balance the semesters.

“We plan to have the calendar ready for January so we can accommodate future planning,” said Hauk.

Northwest School Division typically begins classes the final week of August with staff back three to four days prior to the students’ first day of school. Hauk anticipates teachers will still start before the Labour Day weekend.

“Next year Labour Day is early but I’m looking down the road and in 2015, Labour Day is Sept. 7, meaning the students won’t be back in school until Sept. 8,” he said. “But maybe by then some of the other parameters may have changed.”

Meadow Lake parent Gail Radke said the change could go either way. She currently liked how the students were eased back into the school year with a couple of days and then a weekend but since the first week would be four days, she feels it will be a good change.

“For families it is great,” she said. Radke has four children of which two will still be in school come the 2012-13 year.

Hauk noted the only information he had received regarding changing the school year was from Tourism Saskatchewan. No feedback was received from parents.

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