Nova Scotia

Saturday classes pondered for storm makeup days

One of Nova Scotia's school boards is considering opening schools on Saturday to make up for lost days due to storms.

One of Nova Scotia's school boards is considering opening schools on Saturday to make up for lost days due to storms.

The Chignecto-Central Regional School Board says it needs to find ways to make up for lost class time.

"Can we lobby to change the [Education Act] that maybe they can come in on Saturdays? I don't know," board chair Trudy Thompson told CBC on Wednesday.

The board, which serves 105 schools in central and northern Nova Scotia, lost at least four days of class time this year because of bad weather. Some schools lost up to 5.5 days.

Though there were no more than three storm days last year, 2008-09 was a terrible year, with up to 14 days lost.

"We are very concerned about the lost instructional time," Thompson said.

This week, the board rejected an option to keep schools open on storm days when the buses aren't running. A survey found that 82 per cent of respondents were against the idea.

Thompson said some people thought it didn't make sense to have parents drive on icy roads deemed unsafe for buses, while others thought teachers would simply be babysitters.

So what would parents say about sending their children to school on Saturdays?

"I think parents are concerned over lost instructional time," Thompson said. "Especially with the semester system at the senior high level, you lose a lot of time once you close a school in particular courses. So I think the public will be with us."

She stressed that it's just an idea at this point.

"We don't have the solution yet, but we are working on it," she said.

Saturday no teaching day

The school board can't just hold classes on Saturday if it chooses.

Glenn Friel, spokesman for the Department of Education, said under the current agreement with teachers, weekends and statutory holidays are not considered teaching days.

"Also, the school year consists of 195 days and snow days are included in those, so if you were to add Saturdays it would increase the number of days," he said.

Besides changing the deal with teachers, Friel said parents and students would have to be consulted to determine what impact Saturday classes would have on families.

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