Feedback sought on spring break

NANAIMO – School district's education support workers' union leader is against a proposal that could see spring break extended to two weeks.

Nanaimo school district’s education support workers’ union leader is against a proposal that could see spring break extended to two weeks.

A longer spring break was amongst five school calendar-related recommendations presented at Wednesday’s board meeting and Rob Zver, president of CUPE local 606, said it would come at the expense of his membership.

“Our members that would traditionally work on the school days – so not all the members will be affected from it – will not be covered for the two-week spring break at the current design. They will be asked to lose a week’s pay …

“The ones that work the least amount of time, the least amount of weeks, will pay the lion’s share for other people to enjoy a two-week spring break,” Zver said.

Additionally, given Nanaimo’s reputation for high student poverty, Zver said an extra week would remove a safety net.

“Most schools now have programs that feed children in it. Children feel safe, they can come there, they can have a meal. They get an education and they feel they have a warm place and somebody that cares. And that’s not all the students, but we’re here for all the students …

“Those that have very little, have nowhere to go, and those are the ones schools are supposed to be there for,” said Zver.

Steve Rae, school board chairman, said it’s unfortunate the lowest-paid workers could be affected and the board will try to reach a solution, but it boils down to government funding.

Upwards of $400,000 could be saved, he estimated.

“The reality of it is, it is a significant cost savings to this district, to go to two weeks and that goes back to one thing, the underfunding of education and that’s where it all starts. It is something we’re working for. We need to do it … we have a $4.5 million shortfall, so this helps a lot to do that,” said Rae.

Mike Ball, Nanaimo teachers’ union president, said part-time and on-call teachers could be affected as well, but the union hasn’t taken a stance yet. Members will vote on the issue on March 31.

Consultation on the recommendations has begun and feedback will be accepted until midnight on April 19. Trustees could make a decision at an April 28 meeting.

For more information, or to provide feedback, please go to www.sd68.bc.ca.

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