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Calgary Catholic School District's delayed entry pilot cancelled

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A pilot plan to change the daily school hours for students enrolled in the Calgary Catholic School District (CCSD) has been grounded, the board says.

In a statement on its website, the CCSD said it "overwhelmingly heard" from concerned parents, guardians and staff members, and decided not to proceed with the plan.

The proposal was supposed to change the operating hours one day a week, starting at 11 a.m. or noon on Mondays or Wednesdays.

The CCSD announced its decision last week, first informing staff and teachers on Wednesday and then posting details on its website Friday for parents.

At the same time, it launched a "thought exchange" – an online consultation with parents and teachers.

The feedback was almost universally negative.

"The CCSD should consider not moving forward with this program. If you had consulted with families prior, you would not have made this decision." one comment read.

"It should not go ahead with this without significant parent consultation. This will put a significant strain on working parents, making it even harder to manage child care," another read.

Those are representative of the more than 7,500 comments on the site as of Monday morning.

The CCSD plan also sparked a petition calling for it to be scrapped.

Katie Kachur, a mother of a child in the catholic school system, is pleased the school district cancelled its planned pilot project.

"I think the Catholic School District board of trustees and the superintendent made the right choice. They heard the parents and they're pausing the pilot program to allow for further consultation," said Kachur, who was in contact with the board as Monday's decision was announced.

"They heard the feedback from the parents, and I just opened the door to further dialogue and how we could make sure there was a bit more consultation engagement on any policy development that affects families or kids on a go-forward basis. They agreed, and I will circle back in the new year."

Allison McCaffrey, ATA Local 55 president, says teachers didn't like the plan as presented either but do want to embed professional development in their work week.

She hopes the backlash from the CCSD's decision won't prevent it from further discussion of the issue.

"The disappointment to teachers was that the decision appeared to have been made of how it was going to roll out. And there was no consultation on trying to find the solution," McCaffrey said.

"We're ready to hear the voices of teachers, to hear the voices of parents and make this an opportunity that benefits all."

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