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Schools may move to four-day week to help balance district budget

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A four-day school week is being considered by the school district as it tackles a tight budget.

"All options will be considered in terms of what is best for students and what is best for staff in terms of balancing our budget," said school superintendent Dr. Linda Rossler.

"I think there could be some advantages to it, but we would have to consult with our parents and our staff in terms of how they see that in terms of positives and negatives and how it would fit into to our budgetary considerations."

Rossler said it was too early to say whether a four day school week would be district-wide or introduced school by school.

Before any decision like that is made Rossler wants to hear from stakeholders and get the results of a planned review.

"Whistler has in the past expressed interest in (a four-day school week)," said Rossler.

"But other parts of the district have not necessarily done that.

"The largest determining factor will be the discrepancy in our budget figures."

The review will look at all aspects of schooling in the district. Its purpose is to investigate how the budget is spent and where spending can be reduced.

The district, like every other one in B.C., is struggling to bring in a balanced budget after the provincial government announced last year that it will not fund the second and third year of a teacher’s salary increase it approved.

"We like the quality of service we are providing," said Rossler.

"But we know that we won’t be able to provide that same quality of service if we are not funded at the same level so we have to determine if in fact there are any extras and if there are we have to decide what are our priorities.

"We want to make sure that we make a decision that is based on sound information and not just a gut-wrenching decision to cut something because we don’t have quite enough money.

"Our priority is to provide a quality education to our students. Our priority is to have a balanced budget."

Boundary district in south-central B.C. moved to a four-day school week last year.

The Vancouver Sun reports that school district has not only saved $210,000 it has also lowered absenteeism and sharpened the focus on academic learning.

The schools operated Monday through Thursday except in weeks with a statutory holiday, when they are open Tuesday through Friday.

To make up lost time the day is extended from 8:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. with a 46-minute lunch break and a 15-minute afternoon recess.

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