Glendale Elementary School parent Janna Erickson says it would be a shame if her sons’ school closes.
She loves the year-round schedule and warns once it’s gone it’s gone.
“It would be a shame to get rid of it,” says Erickson, who has a son in Grade 5 and another in Grade 3.
Holding a graph that shows the balance of the modified calendar, she points out how much it makes sense to her.
“You don’t have big chunks of time off. Instead you have time, instruction and holidays evenly spaced out.”
This isn’t the first time Erickson is gathering information to make her case.
She also researched in 2010 when she was co-chair of the school’s parent advisory council.
At that time she said she had concerns about the school’s possible closure.
“We have a specialized school with a non-traditional school year; that is why it works well, not only for parents, but the children, also.”
Counting on her fingers she says there are three things to keep in mind.
“People need to think outside the box. They need to go outside their comfort zone and the school board needs to be forward thinking.”
The traditional calendar, she adds, is based on an agricultural society.
“No children stop going to school and have the summer off to help in the fields anymore. That doesn’t happen. It’s outdated.”
In fact, she would like to see all schools in the district be on the balanced calendar.
Students have a month off at three different times throughout the year.
Glendale Elementary School was the first school in Canada to go that route.
Byron Kemp was principal at Glendale in 1990 when the school board looked at closing the school because of a population decrease.
“At that point we were below a hundred students, so I was asked to find a solution or the school was going to close. I looked at many alternatives,” Kemp recalls.
He’d been working in the district since 1974 and noticed the schools lost students during break-up time.
“We looked at rescheduling so you could offer breaks when people would use them. In looking at it and bringing the parents in, this was what we came up with. It worked; we increased population.”
Families did not have to stay in the school and accept the change; however, eight students left and 30 or 40 new ones came in, Kemp says.
“I would see it a shame for Glendale to close period. I’m not impressed with the way they are looking at the Grade 7 to 12 mixture either. I don’t have the answers at this point in time, but it’s interesting that they are looking at closing the two schools that are different in the district and have been doing very well for themselves — Glendale and Kwaleen,” Kemp adds.
It’s a tough situation for the school district, he adds.
“Part of the problem is the provincial government and their lack of real funding involvement. I think there are many issues within the Williams Lake area, as far as people leaving to look for employment.”
The French immersion program in Williams Lake is housed at Glendale, although students enrolled in the program follow the regular calendar.
The building is also home to the Williams Lake Studio Theatre.
All three entities are working together under one roof, Erickson says.
“It’s going to be a hard sell to keep Glendale open. People hear the term ‘year-round school’ and they don’t realize that our kids go to school the same number of days.”
One of Erickson’s sons is autistic and she finds the balanced calendar benefits him. “He already struggles so this calendar caters to at-risk kids. It was a no-brainer I realized once I did some research. There is less burnout for teachers and for students.”