Abbotsford schools might shorten spring break due to teachers’ grievance

Union says schedule exceeds instructional time limits

Spring break could be cut in half for Abbotsford students next school year.

The Abbotsford board of education will choose between calendars with one-week or two-week spring breaks at a Feb. 27 meeting.

Board chair Shirley Wilson said she hopes the district can continue the two-week breaks it has “enjoyed” for the last 15 years, but it may have to revert to one-week breaks if a grievance from the local teachers’ union isn’t resolved.

The Abbotsford District Teachers’ Association (ADTA) says the district’s preferred plan exceeds the maximum amount of instructional minutes in a typical school day. The schedule is about 10 minutes longer each day than their collective agreement allows, the ADTA says. The days are longer to meet provincially mandated instructional time minimums for the year.

Wilson said the longer break is a “positive feature” of working and studying in Abbotsford, as it provides a longer break for tired students to refresh. It also saves the district money, she said.

The union agreed to longer work days and a longer break, ADTA president Jennifer Brooks said in a letter to members.

“What we didn’t approve was adding minutes in excess of those needed to create the two-week spring break; minutes that, when added together, equal more than a full day each year,” she wrote.

Brooks said that the grievance would not have been necessary if the district had upheld its duty to negotiate the schedule with the ADTA, which continues to support a two-week spring break for the 2018/2019 school year.

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