Rural Yukon continues to have say in school year dates

Education minister Elaine Taylor says rural communities will continue to have flexibility in the dates the school year begins and ends and how long their spring break will be.

Yukon's Department of Education is not going forward with proposed changes that didn’t go over well in all communities.

A year ago the department said it wanted to make the school year more standard in all Yukon communities. It said that would help the department offer more elective courses at more schools through distance learning.

That irked the local school council in Dawson City where there was a tradition of starting the school year in mid-August and ending around the beginning of June. That enabled students to accompany their parents to family mining operations on the gold creeks in the Klondike region.

It also let students find summer jobs in town where the busy tourist season starts around the end of May.

The department has set the school calendar for the next three years and it’s continuing to give rural communities flexibility on the dates.

In the 2014-2015 school year they can start as early as Aug. 11, 2014, and end as early as June 1, 2015, if the school takes a one week spring break instead of the usual two weeks.

Education minister Elaine Taylor says regional and cultural differences will be respected.

"When it comes to rural schools, they will be given a number of options based on the same perimeters of what we experienced this year, again to accommodate those regional and cultural priorities,” Taylor says.

She says elementary and secondary schools in Whitehorse will start on the same day in 2014, 2015 and 2016 - the Monday before Labour Day. In the 2014-15 school year, that’s Aug. 25.

Students at Whitehorse schools will continue to have a two-week spring break for the next three years.

There had also been some complaints about the department imposing 180 days of instruction in communities where local parents believed the students’ time might be better spent on other activities.

The department says that’s not been changed.