Development of The Annual School Calendar
All BC school districts are required by the provincial School Act and the School Calendar Regulation B.C. Reg. 314/12 to prepare an annual school calendar for their school district. Prior to 2012, the provincial Ministry of Education established a Standard School Calendar for all BC schools to follow.
Calendars must be prepared in accordance with the requirements and timelines indicated in the School Act and School Calendar Regulation. The School Calendar Regulation identifies a minimum number of instructional hours that must be provided to students in each school year.
In the North Vancouver School District, the School Calendar development process involves the School Calendar Committee, which is comprised of representatives of our partner groups. The School Calendar Committee creates and prepares a calendar PROPOSAL for recommendation to the Board of Education which, on the Board's direction, is then made available for a one-month Public Comment period before the Board considers final approval of the calendar.
By March 31st of each year, the Board of Education is required to submit a school calendar for the coming school year to the Minister of Education. Boards may prepare and provide calendars for up to 3 consecutive years.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who creates the School Calendar?
The Board of Education has established a School Calendar Committee comprised of representatives from our education partners: the North Vancouver Teachers' Association, CUPE Union Local 389, the North Vancouver District Parents' Advisory Council, the North Vancouver Administrators' Association (principals and vice principals), and the District Student Leadership Council. The Committee is chaired by Assistant Superintendent Chris Atkinson and includes additional school district staff as required.
The School Calendar Committee reviews potential school calendar options and discusses possible scheduling for school days and non-instructional days for the year. The Assistant Superintendent, based upon the discussions of the Committee, prepares a Draft Proposed School Calendar for the Board to consider.
Who makes the final decision on the School Calendar?
The Draft Proposed School Calendar developed by the School Calendar Committee is provided to the Board of Education for their initial review. The finalized draft Proposal is made available for Public Comment and the comments received are compiled and provided to the Board. The Board then decides whether to accept the Proposed Calendar as prepared or to make changes to it. The Board's final decision occurs at a regularly scheduled Public Board Meeting; historically, this has occurred at the Board's March meeting.
How does the School Calendar Committee pick the dates for the calendar?
The Committee identifies dates for proposed calendar options based, in part, upon: past school calendars; previous public comment collection and surveys; and non-negotiable dates such as scheduled Statutory Holidays within the school year. Committee members are appointed to provide the views of their individual partner groups (i.e., teachers, support staff, parents, students, principals and vice principals) and the preferences of each group are shared and discussed in committee meetings.
Over time, through Committee discussions, partner group input, and public comment/survey feedback, the following criteria have been established as guiding principles:
- The school year will begin after the September Labour Day Statutory Holiday and end before July 1st. The school year will not include July or August dates.
- First day of school will be the first Tuesday after the Labour Day Statutory Holiday.
- Winter Break will begin on the Friday preceding Christmas Day and will generally be aligned with the known winter breaks of other Lower Mainland school districts, in particular, the West Vancouver School District.
- Spring Break will generally be aligned with the known winter breaks of other Lower Mainland school districts, in particular, the West Vancouver School District. Most typically, Spring Break will occur after 10 weeks of school have been completed following the Winter Break.
- Where there is potential to schedule Spring Break joined to the Easter long weekend (i.e., when Easter falls in early April), the Spring Break dates may be shifted by one week and occur in the 11th week following Winter Break.
- The last day of school for teachers will occur on June 30th or, if June 30th falls on a weekend, the preceding Friday.
- The last day of school for students will occur the day before the teachers' last scheduled day.
- Non-instructional days ("Professional Development" or "ProD" days and the NVSD Curriculum Implementation Day) will occur within the Sept-June school year.
- Three of the district-wide Professional Development days are selected by the North Vancouver Teacher's Association (NVTA), in accordance with the Collective Agreement (Contract) in place between the NVTA and NVSD.
- Each school's two school-based Professional Days are chosen at the school level by the school Staff Committee.
- One district-wide Professional Day (Curriculum Implementation Day) is selected by the Calendar Committee.
- Efforts will be made to attach non-instructional days to weekends (i.e., schedule for a Friday or Monday).
- Efforts will be made to ensure that shortened weeks (i.e., weeks which include holiday or non-instructional dates) do not occur back-to-back.
- Schools within the same Family of Schools will be encouraged to select common dates for their school-based Professional Days.
Why are these criteria used?
The scheduling of Statutory Holidays is very clear. They are observed on the day upon which they fall, unless the day falls on a weekend, in which case they are observed on the following Monday. The scheduling of Statutory Holidays is either a requirement by law, or a contractual obligation under the Collective Agreements with our staff and their bargaining agents.
Some of the criteria remain as historical legacy from when the provincial Ministry of Education set the dates for all schools in the province. For example, the start of the school year in September and the end in June are dates that have existed for decades. The same is the case with the last day of school before the Winter Break falling on the Friday immediately preceding Christmas Day (except for when Christmas Day falls on a Sunday). While it is not required that we maintain this "traditional" school year scheduling, it is well established in the culture and routine of both our school district and other school districts in BC.
Other aspects of the scheduling reflects the rights of our employees and their respective Unions under the agreed terms of their Collective Agreements (Contracts). For example, it is a requirement that staff be provided with an established number of non-instructional/Professional Development days and, in the case of our teachers, that they have the right to select these dates. The Employer (the school district) does not have the power to amend the dates selected by teachers under current contractual agreements.
Lastly, public consultation – through past surveys and collection of comments – has identified preferences for scheduling including, but not exclusive of:
- the spacing or balancing of non-instructional days throughout the month,
- the grouping of non-instructional days with weekends and/or long-weekends rather than mid-week scheduling,
- a majority preference (to date) for a two-week spring break,
- alignment with the holiday dates set for neighbouring school districts.
Can you change the criteria you have been using?
Each year, the school district collects public comments regarding the calendar proposed for the following year(s). Themes and trends in these comments are used to inform the Committee as to the desires of those who choose to share their preferences. The Committee, and then the Board, consider the themes and trends that emerge from these comment periods and surveys, and, where new preferences emerge, adjust the scheduling selection accordingly.
With respect to those areas of scheduling that are impacted by Collective Agreements (Contracts) or legislation (Provincial laws), they will change only when the Agreements or laws change.
Why can't the calendar be the same every year?
Some of the date options are impacted by the dates upon which Statutory Holidays are observed. Statutory Holiday dates are set by the provincial government and, in instances where they fall on weekend days, are observed in accordance with the terms of employee Collective Agreements (Contracts).
For example, the "traditional" first day of school is scheduled for the day immediately after Labour Day, and the Labour Day date varies from year to year. While it is always the first Monday of September, that may be as early as September 1st, with school then beginning on September 2nd. In other years, it will fall as late as September 8th, with the first day of school then occurring on September 9th.
Additionally, the occurrence of Easter and the Easter Friday/Good Monday holidays changes from year to year. When it falls in or adjacent to March, these two Statutory Holiday dates might fall within the scheduled Spring Break and not require any loss of scheduled school days. In other years, when it falls well into April, the Easter Friday/Good Monday holidays result in the loss of 2 potential days of instruction for students within that month.
On occasion, the Ministry of Education adds new requirements for additional non-instructional time/days within the school year. This occurred most recently in 2015/16, 2016/17, 2017/18, and 2018/19. In each of those years, school districts were required to schedule extra non-instructional time (students not in attendance) in support of the introduction of the new, province-wide K-12 Curriculum.
How can I best make my voice heard with respect to my preferences for calendar?
Each time a school calendar is established, the Board of Education is required by the Ministry of Education to make its proposed calendar available for public comment prior to adopting a final version. By participating in the comment process, your comments will be included among those provided to the Board. The greater the participation in the public comment process, the more informed the Board will be with respect to the opinions and preferences of our school communities.