Proposed 2016-2017 School Calendar

The Westwind School Board is proposing a 2016-2017 School Calendar for you to consider. The big difference between this proposed calendar and recent school calendars is the return to full school days on Fridays.

The Board is proposing this return to 'full Fridays' for a few reasons.

  1. Half-day Fridays have become less effective for students and teachers.

  2. The Board wants to keep teachers and Administrators in their classrooms and schools more by rescheduling administrative and division meetings and duties on non-student days as much as possible.

  3. The Board wants to give teachers and administrators increased and enhanced opportunities for development, preparation, and collaboration.

"There has been some evidence over the last two or three years that the educational value of our half day Fridays has been eroded." Said Board Chair, Ron Fromm. The Board is committed to creating the best environment for student learning. They see value for students in returning to full Fridays.

Mr. Fromm continued, "Research shows that, the teacher in front of the students, is the most effective tool that we have got in providing a good education." The Board is looking for ways to cut the amount of time that our expert teachers and administrators are out of their classrooms and schools. They want to maximize the amount of time that students have with their teachers.

In the proposed calendar, there are several Fridays that students would not be at school. The Board's intention is to use these Fridays "to conduct the business of the Division and still not affect the instructional time." Superintendent Ken Sommerfeldt explained that full Fridays would also provide time for more teacher development. This would include self-directed teacher development. The hope of the Board is that this schedule will increase the amount of time teachers and administrators have with students, and will improve teaching skills.

The Board is committed to providing the best learning environment for our students. The Board believes that the proposed calendar can help meet the needs of students. But, the Board recognizes that the School Calendar has a big impact on the schedules of the community. Mr. Sommerfeldt explained that it is difficult to know what the impact will be on the community because everyone's schedules and circumstances are unique. "But that's why we want to listen. We want to hear the perspective of parents and employees so that we can make an informed decision of what is best for education."

"We genuinely want to listen. We're not just imposing a calendar. We have put it out so that we can get feedback on it." Mr. Fromm explained."We're looking for honest opinions. We're looking for responsive feedback. We're looking for constructive feedback."

The Division has put out a survey to staff and another one for the public. The results of the survey will help the Board understand the issues with the calendar and will give them ideas on how to improve it. Mr Sommerfeldt explained that "It would be most helpful if people could say: 'If you tried this, this might work best.' or 'Have you considered this?' That kind of feedback will be helpful in making an informed choice." 

Below is a timeline that will help everyone understand what the feedback and decision process will look like.

  • December 16-January 4: collect feedback via public and staff surveys.

  • January 5: The Board will review the preliminary findings of the surveys and discuss initial impressions from the discussions they have had with the public.

  • January 12: School Principals will review the initial feedback from the Board and make recommendations.

  • January 14: The Board will review the complete survey results and decide on changes to make to the proposed calendar. These changes can be major or minor.

  • January 14-February 1: Another draft of the school calendar with the changes made by the Board will be prepared and released to the public. The following activities will begin during this period and may continue until near the end of February.

    • We will hold community focus groups regarding the modified proposed calendar.

    • We will make presentations and have discussions with school councils regarding the modified proposed calendar.

    • We will ask the local ATA executive committee to give feedback on the modified school calendar.

  • February 2: The Board will review the feedback it has received on the modified calendar at its Regular Board Meeting in February and will continue to seek input and feedback on any further changes and modifications.

  • February 9: School Principals will review the modified school calendar and feedback from the Board and make recommendations.

  • March 1: After the consultation processes, the Board will set the calendar for the 2016-2017 school year by motion at the Regular Board Meeting in March.

We may be providing further information to the public via our social media and website as this issue develops. If you would like to edit your response, you can do that at any time up to January 4 when the survey will close. If you click on the link to the survey and you’ve already submitted a response, it will take you to a page saying that you have already submitted a response to the survey with a link below that will let you go in and edit your response.

We want to also assure everyone that, even though the survey requires you to log in with an email address, we have set it up so that we are not collecting any of the email addresses entered. All the survey responses are intended to be anonymous, however, people may say things in the comment sections of the survey that could be used to identify them.

The Board would like to reiterate that this process is not to choose between either one option, or another option. The feedback received will help the Board create the best calendar possible for the education of our students. This proposed calendar is just that, a proposal. It is not set in stone, and there are many meetings and consultations between now and March when there will be changes made to the proposed calendar. We will provide information to the public as this process continues.

Thank you for engaging in this important process. If you have questions, please email them to Graham Ruttan, Communications Officer for Westwind, at graham.ruttan@westwind.ab.ca.

Please help us understand the impact this proposed calendar could have on you, and what improvements we can make. The survey will be open until January 4. Click here to access the survey. Then the results will be compiled and prepared for the Board’s annual Planning Meeting. The Board will closely review the submissions as they prepare the next draft of the proposed 2016-2017 School Calendar.