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Parents out to stymie short week [CA-BC]

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Rud, Jeff
Publication Date: 
15 Apr 2004

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A group of Pender Island parents is prepared to go to court to stop the local school district from switching this fall to a four-day week.

Kids First is a new association opposed to plans by the Gulf Islands school district to save $400,000 annually through the move.

Gulf Islands trustees voted 4-2 Wednesday in favour of a notice of motion to switch to a four-day school week beginning this September.

The district is facing a $1.1-million budget shortfall over the next two school years. The board estimates that adopting a four-day week would wipe out approximately one-third of that deficit.

The chairwoman said she is satisfied the board has done due diligence and is comfortable with its decision to chop 30 days from the school calendar. To make up the time, students will attend school longer each day &em; ranging from 28 more minutes for kindergarten to 55 additional minutes for elementary.

McKenzie is also confident that the decision, if ratified on May 19, will hold up in court.

She said declining enrolment and a change in the provincial funding formula were among the factors contributing to the four-day week plan and other budget-cutting measures. Kids First believes that trustees should submit a "negative" deficit budget to the province and be prepared to face the consequences, even if it means being ousted by the government.

Some wonder what children will do with the extra day off each week.

Parents are also concerned about costs and availability of child care for the extra day off each week; increased pressure on students who fall sick to catch up in the compressed schedule; and the possibility that people will be discouraged from moving to the Gulf Islands because of the four-day week.

Three B.C. school districts -- Boundary, Nisga'a and Coast Mountain &em; use the four-day week.

- reprinted from the Times Colonist