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Kelowna  

CUPE remains opposed to two-week spring break

Concerns over spring break

The CUPE local representing support workers within the Central Okanagan School District continue to oppose a two-week spring break.

That opposition was contained within a letter to the district ahead of the Board of Education’s expected adoption of the 2025-2026 school calendar.

In the letter, CUPE Local 3523 president Teri Wishlow says losing the pay for an extra week of spring break is a “serious hardship for our members.”

Wishlow says the burden is felt hardest by 10-month employees who are single parents and work two or more jobs to support their families.

“When their children (your students) are not in school, parents are unable to cover the cost of childcare so they can work elsewhere,” Wishlow says in the letter.

“The extra week at spring break provides a huge cost saving for the district. Those savings come directly from CUPE 10-month employees.”

As part of a report for the board recommending adoption of the school calendar which includes a two-week spring break, district Supt. Kevin Kaardal says the union’s objection focuses mainly on the economic impact on a small number of employees.

“Because a two-week spring break has been in place for approximately 20 years, the district has not budgeted for a one-week spring break,” says Kaardal.

“A move to a one-week spring break is projected to cost the district approximately $800,000.”

He also pointed to surveys the district has conducted over the past five years in which CUPE members, parents, administrators and others strongly favour the two-week spring break.

95 per cent of CUPE members who took the survey support or strongly support the current spring break system.

However, only 20 union members completed the survey.

Wishlow says the union would support a system adopted by other districts around the province in which extra minutes are added to each day for 10-month employees allowing them to bank those minutes to cover the extra week.

Kaardal says the district does have opportunities for an additional week of meaningful work for some 10-month CUPE employees.

“Over the last many years, community programs have developed to support parents and guardians with childcare such as sports camps, UBC/OC children's programs, and other weeklong community camps,” adds Kaardal.

The board is expected to adopt the 2025-2026 school calendar when it meets Wednesday evening.



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