Langley's public school students get to keep their summer vacations.
After a couple months of consultation, meetings, and questions, Langley's school board voted to keep the traditional calendar for at least the next three school years.
Langley was among the first to bite after the provincial government amended laws, allowing districts to set their own calendars.
Langley's appears to be the most comprehensive examination so far, giving some the impression that there was a "pre-determined decision," but superintendent Suzanne Hoffman said that was not the case.
Trustee Candy Ashdown said the community didn't feel respected in recent years, and this calendar process brought out some underlying distrust. The district and the board have a lot of work to regain trust, she noted.
"[The extensive consultation] represents a departure from the arrogance of the past," said Tr. Megan Dykeman.
She said the views of the community need to be obtained often, and not only every three years at the ballot box.
Tr. Alison McVeigh said the discussions can't take place until the district asks questions of its stakeholders and explores options.
The district got about 200 emails over the proposed calendar changes.
"Our Facebook page was very active," Hoffman said. "Our Twitter feed was active."
A district survey got 7,446 responses.
"We thought that was a good representation," she said. "It provided us with some invaluable feedback."
About 76 per cent of people surveyed wanted to keep the existing calendar with a summer break and a two-week spring break.
Only 14 per cent favoured Option 2 (a three-week winter break and three-week spring break). And Option 3, a year-round schooling idea, only had 10 per cent support.
The survey results broken down by groups of people affected by the calendar.
District administrators were evenly split on the three options. Around 60 per cent of district support staff and teachers liked Option 1 (status quo).
Langley business people were most in favour of keeping the existing calendar, about 85 per cent.
Students voted more than 70 per cent for keeping their summer holidays. Numbers were slightly higher for parents and parents of future students. Concerns ranged from overheated schools during summer to lack of activities for kids with long breaks during the cold, wet months.
Other districts were also interested in Langley's outcome: "There has been a great deal of interest in the region," Hoffman said.
Abbotsford School District approved a status quo calendar for the coming school year at its Tuesday meeting.
While other districts were watching Langley, Langley decided it couldn't make the changes alone, since there is crossover with neighbouring districts (parents who live in one but work in another, for instance).
Langley will adjust dates of its two-week spring break to coincide with other districts. In the past, it's been timed around Easter.
The Douglas Park Community School calendar was also approved Tuesday. It's the only school in Langley with year-round schooling.
Some trustees think the issue of year-round schooling will come up again in the future for all Langley schools.
"The truth is that I think we'd like to see some change," commented Tr. Rod Ross.
McVeigh said, "It is clear we're not there yet," but she hopes the district can be "bold" enough to have the discussion again.
"Many countries around the world, countries that have lots of rain, too, have balanced calendars," she noted.