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CBE considers transitioning schools on modified calendar to traditional calendar next September

The Calgary Board of Education is considering transitioning schools on the modified calendar to the traditional calendar next school year, and it wants to hear what families who have kids attending these schools think.

Celeste Watamanuk has two kids attending CBE schools, but their schedules are totally different. 

Her eldest daughter’s school is on a traditional calendar, while her younger daughter’s school — Erin Woods School — operates on the modified calendar. That means her summer break is shorter, and she has more breaks spread out over the year. 

‘We’re not a fan’

And that presents its own set of challenges. 

“We’re not a fan of the modified calendar,” she said. “Trying to find childcare when one is on a break and one isn’t makes it really difficult, and we find that our summers are really cut short, or limited by it.”

Celeste Watamanuk’s daughter attends grade 4 at Erin Woods School, but she says it’s not what the family would choose if they had the chance. (Submitted by Celeste Watamanuk)

The family never wanted to be on a modified school calendar, but they didn’t have much of a choice.

“This is our designated school,” she said. “And the other school in the area, Valley View, is also on a modified calendar.”

Andrea Holowka, CBE superintendent of school improvement, says the modified calendar was introduced at the CBE about 15 years ago. 

“What families were looking for there was certainly some research of the day that demonstrated there might be some advantage to students academically — research of the time suggested it had the ability to make up for some summer learning loss,” she said.

“Since that time there has been less research and our own internal data wouldn’t really support that … it just shows us that the calendar doesn’t really have a significant impact on academic outcomes.”

Upcoming engagement

Now, she said the CBE is considering the possibility of transitioning its 28 modified calendar schools to the traditional calendar next school year.

“Since those decisions have been made years ago, does that still present any benefit or challenges to families?” she said.

Holowka says transitioning to a traditional calendar would also reduce operational challenges and improve efficiencies by having a consistent dates of when schools are open.

But, she said there are undoubtedly some families and staff that enjoy having a earlier start in August and extended breaks throughout the year. 

People are invited to share their thoughts at the first in-person engagement session is Sept. 27 and in an online survey that will launch Sept. 30.

The school board says it will make a decision by December so that families have time to make any adjustments. 

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