School councils are charged with the responsibility to initiate proposals for significant deviations from the Board-approved School Division calendar (i.e., compressed school weeks, alternate school years). It is recommended that following such initiation, members of the school staff be consulted, recognizing that the final approval for a proposal to go forward to the Board rests solely with the school council in consultation with administration.
- Any changes to the school week or year must take into consideration all legislated requirements in the Education Act and the Guide to Education.
- No individual school that is part of a busing network shall consider a proposal that would affect other schools in the network unless all affected schools agree to consider the proposal.
- Proposals shall receive the voting support of at least 65% of families who will have children enrolled in the school during the year in which the proposed school calendar will be implemented. Each family is entitled to one (1) vote.
- The school council shall convene a public meeting to discuss the proposal prior to an initial vote being conducted. A second public meeting must be held prior to the second vote occurring at the conclusion of the pilot.
- It is important for input to be obtained from those affected by the change in addition to parents. To that end, the Superintendent will solicit letters of support from groups such as the school staff, bus drivers, custodians, town or village or county council, community association, Chamber of Commerce, etc., and include these in the submission to the Board.
- Initial approval, if granted, will be for a two (2) year pilot basis. Continuing approval will be contingent upon a school-administered vote in January of the second pilot year, with a required 70% level of support by parents (one vote per family). For purposes of the vote, families having children enrolled in the school the following year will be eligible to cast a ballot.
- Once a deviation from the system school calendar has been either (a) approved by the Board on an ongoing basis, or (b) rejected by the school community through an inability to reach the required level of acceptance identified in Clause 6 above, no further requests to the Board regarding modifications to the school year in place shall be entertained for a period of three (3) years.
- At any point following the three (3) year waiting period, parents can require the school council to survey parents again by providing to school council a petition signed by not less than 25% of families identified in clause 3.
- For purposes of clauses 3 and 6, abstentions or spoiled ballots shall not be considered when determining the level of support for the proposed school calendar.
- Procedures to be employed when voting on the question of a modified school year calendar are outlined as follows:
- The school council shall establish a timeline and voting procedure to assess support for modifications to the school year calendar, and submit it to the Superintendent for approval prior to any vote being taken.
- The voting question should be clear and require a simple Yes/No answer, i.e., “Are you in favour of the alternate school calendar (or four-day week, modified school year, etc.) as presented?”
- Parents shall be entitled to one (1) vote per family. Only parents having children in the school the year the change is to be instituted will be eligible to vote (e.g., includes future kindergarten parents for the following year, or parents of children in Grade 6 who will be entering a junior/senior high, but not those with children currently in Grade 6 in an elementary school).
- Ballots shall be forwarded to parents with a return envelope that can be sealed. The envelope should be numbered to track the ballots that have been returned. Once the receipt of the ballot has been recorded, it shall be placed (still sealed) in the ballot box.
- The letter accompanying the ballot shall indicate the date for return and a statement that the school secretary will make one (1) phone call to parents who have not submitted their ballot by that return date asking them to do so. If it is discovered the parent has not received a ballot, a second one shall be forwarded with a specified return date.
- Failure to vote on the question or spoiled ballots will constitute an abstention, with a corresponding reduction in the total votes possible (i.e., if 100 parents are eligible to vote and 80 ballots are returned, the percentage required for approval will be based on the 80 returned ballots).
- For purposes of impartiality, two (2) individuals should act as Returning Officers for the counting of ballots. The Returning Officers must be individuals other than a parent or member of the school staff.
- The second vote taken at the end of the pilot shall be carried out using procedures that are identical to those employed during the original vote.
- In the event of unforeseen events (i.e., weather-related issues, traumatic event in the community), written approval for changes to procedures or timelines must be obtained from the Superintendent. Ballot boxes shall remain sealed until such written approval is received.
- Education Act, Section 60
- Guide to Education, Program Planning
- Board/ATA Collective Agreement
- Cross Reference: Policy 18 – School Year Calendar
Updated May, 2020