Minister: School Year To Be Cut By Five Days

August 29, 2013

[Updated with videos] Instead of teachers taking one day off a month as part of a cost cutting measure agreed to last month, the 2013/14 school year will be reduced five days a year, Education Minister Nalton Brangman said.

Last month all six Unions and their memberships agreed to what amounted to a 4.6% deduction in their overall package, with employees set to receive one unpaid and un-worked day per month. This is estimated to save $21 million in the first year, Government said.

Video of Minister Brangman making the announcement:

Minister Brangman said said after discussion with the Bermuda Union of Teachers, it was determined that it was not feasible for schools to operate efficiently with teachers taking one day off a month so the school day will be cut back by five days so that all staff take the days off at the same time.

“While educators and Ministry officials are concerned by the implications of this initiative, there is no other way to meet the terms of the MOU,” said Minister Brangman.

This was announced at a press conference this afternoon. We will update with video and additional information as able.

Video of the Q&A with the Minister and Permanent Secretary Warren Jones:

Update 4.05pm: Not all five days directly involve changes for students, as the days on February 17-19 are for “professional development and administrative days,” and school was already out for the week.

The Christmas break will occur one day earlier [December 19 2013], and students will return to school one day later after the Christmas break [January 7 2014]. School will also end one day earlier in June 2014, with students last day of school now set to be on June 25th.

Update 4.26pm: In order for the Minister of Education to shorten the school year, a legislative amendment was required. Minister Brangman said the required amendment has been completed by the Attorney General’s chamber, and will be tabled in the House of Assembly when the legislature resumes in September.

Update 4.56pm: Minister Brangman’s full statement follows below.

Good Afternoon,

You will be aware that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Government of Bermuda and The Bermuda Trade Union Congress was signed on 22 July 2013.

Amongst the initiatives agreed, and effective from September 1st, public officers are required to take unpaid, unworked furlough days.

That MOU also applies to staff employed in the public education system.

During consultation with the Bermuda Union of Teachers (BUT) and the Bermuda Public Services Union (BPSU), who represent Principals, it was agreed that it would be impossible for schools to manage ‘rolling furlough’ days for their staff

(rolling furlough days would mean that schools would remain open and principals manage each individual’s furlough days over the course of the year).

This would be particularly difficult in light of ongoing concern about disruption to teaching and learning and the financial cost of providing coverage for absence related to professional development, illness and/or maternity leave.

Additionally, expenditure for substitute teachers (if available) to cover furlough days would largely negate savings from the unworked, unpaid days.

Therefore, it has been agreed that in order for educators to comply with the MOU, that the 2013/14 school year be shortened by five days so that all educators and other affected school staff furlough at the same time.

While educators and Ministry officials are concerned about the implications of this initiative, there is no other way to meet the terms of the MOU.

The public will be aware that educators work ten months but are paid over twelve. Therefore, the pro-rated equivalent of furlough days for educators for the remainder of the first year of the MOU is five days.

I am thankful to our union partners, the BUT and the BPSU, who worked with us to ensure this arrangement results in the least impact possible on teaching and learning.

Therefore, in order to effect the five furlough days, the following will occur:

  • The Christmas break will occur one day earlier – Thursday, 19 December,
  • The Administrative Day that was to occur on Wednesday 19 February will now occur on Monday 6 January, meaning that students will return one day later from Christmas break – Tuesday 7 January.
  • Monday 17 – Wednesday 19 February will now be furlough days as opposed to professional development and an administrative day. Since school was already out that week for students, these three days will have no impact on teaching and learning.
  • Finally, school will end one day earlier in June. Students’ last day of school will now be Wednesday 25 June, with teachers finishing on Friday, 27th June. Therefore, Monday, 30th June will be a furlough day.

It is our intent to ensure that this information is communicated to parents once school returns on September 6th.

In order for the Minister of Education to shorten the school year, a legislative amendment to Rule 11(1) of the Education Rules 2006, was required.

Rule 11(1) establishes that the school year shall be two hundred teaching days.

The required amendment has been completed by the Attorney-General’s Chambers and will be published in the Official Gazette tomorrow, Friday 30 August. It will also be tabled in the House of Assembly when the Legislature resumes in September.

In closing, I would like to again thank our Union stakeholders for putting children at the forefront of our decision-making. Further, I ask parents to support us as we work at every level to give the best to your children in the upcoming school year.

Thank you.

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Comments (54)

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  1. Smh says:

    Like our children can afford it….smh

    • Out of flight says:

      Well well well. We pick a Commissioned who has a list of accomplishments that cannot be found from a country with a poor education system. He has limited experience and now we shorten the school day. when we took a 10% cut on our job we did NOT get any time off. We make the same hours but take home less pay. The same should happen with teachers. The OBA are lost. One disaster after another.
      At the end of the day the country is going to clamour for the UBP business skills to be brought back.

  2. What the hell says:

    Ok……now that is officially the dumbest thing I’ve heard from the OBA…and I am a supporter

    • Why is it dumb, it is not like the education department is up to speed anyway,so who suffers,our youth of course. what the heck just another excuse to do what exactly.

      Give me the money to home school or send my children to private and see how quick I yank them out,but on the other hand if these extra five days are actually going to help train ad produce better teachers,it will be a win win situation.

      Lets see all may not be lost, bu just in case I always keep my luggage packed.

    • frank says:

      that is the change that you voted for dum a==s

  3. Vote for Me says:

    I trust that this article has been posted in error!

    How can we possibly have less school days if the Minister previously advised that the school day will be lengthened because there is insufficient school time – and was supported by OBA Chairman Hollis!!

    This also seems to indicate that someone was sleeping at the negotiating table! If we take this a step further, how practical is it for Police, Fire and Prison Officers for example to take off one day per month.

    Come on Mr. Minister all of our children and the general public deserve better than this.

    • Double Standards says:

      No way.

      I can’t believe it.

      You, of all posters, disagree with something that this Government is doing?

      Well I never.

      Bdians didn’t deserved to being driven into debt that would require unpopular actions to be taken.

      But yet, here we are.

  4. Vote for Me says:

    “While educators and Ministry officials are concerned by the implications of this initiative, there is no other way to meet the terms of the MOU,”

    Can someone from the Ministry explain the sentence above!!

  5. Grand Wizzard says:

    Wow. That shows where the hearts of these teachers are for their students.

    “I ‘int’ gonna take no day off each month, bye! Screw dem kids, make them suffer instead! Yah bye!”

    Worthy of spitting upon. Selfish people who don’t even deserve to teach with an attitude like that.

    PATHETIC!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Really?? says:

      You are pathetic making dumb comments like that. The minister made the decision you dreamer. Sounds like you took more than 5 days off from school posting such a ignorant comment that makes absolutely no sense.

  6. Tired says:

    So let’s get this right. They were suppose to take one day off a month, which equates to 10 days. So now school will be five days shorter. Maybe I need to go back to school and learn this equation.

    • Double Standards says:

      Take into account the numerous mid-terms, christmas vacations and the summer break and you will arrive at that figure…

  7. Loquatz says:

    Lame.

  8. OceansDaughter says:

    There better be some Gov’t term camps available !!!! Especially after Christmas break, Some parents have jobs to return too!!

    Jan 7th is just plan absurd!

  9. North says:

    Is this the Change OBA supporters voted for?????

    • Sandy Bottom says:

      They have no choice but to spend less. It would have been better if the teachers got no days off and they booted a few hundred civil servants instead. Much better.

      • frank says:

        sell off some of those GP cars to some of are friends down south like that kia soul that is parked by joell’s alley

  10. Terry says:

    What is everyone bitching and moaning about.
    From what I read, the children get a couple days less of school and the teachers still get paid. Right?

    • Tired of the moaning says:

      Wrong! The teachers are actually NOT getting paid for those days! The students will not be missing any lessons as the majority of those days off are during their mid term break. The last day of school in December is usually set aside for end of term celebrations, as is the last day in June. January 6 has been set aside for professional development for the teachers, hence the students starting on the 7th. The students have 5 days for their mid term in Feb. during that time, teachers are engaged in workshops and administrative days( three day) Then they are off for two days. This Feb they will be off for those extra three days WITHOUT pay! It’s amazing how nobody seemed to care that the PLP was going to freeze our superannuation last year to recoup their 65 million dollar debt!

      • justMYopinion says:

        Thank you…..Someone that can actually do the Math…..

      • You're right says:

        THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.

      • Pastor Syl Hayward says:

        Thank you, Tired of the Moaning! I appreciate the breakdown and the comparison.

  11. RawOnion says:

    Even though I am for as much education days as possible for our students, there are ways an effective teacher can still get all the necessary lessons completed in the school year. The first day of school there is generally no work done as are the last days before Christmas and summer break. Now the students may (and should) have to actually do work at the beginning and right up until their school terms.

    Another way the MOed can save money is to close a primary and/or middle school and consolidate the students and services into one or more schools. The closed school can then mothballed or repaired/rebuilt. Now I know there will be people screaming about their schools history and so on but this may be a better way then reducing the school year and the only added expense might be in busing the student to the new locations.

    The class size may or may not increase and there may or may not be a decrease in teachers. This is something that would need to be sorted out based on student movement and needs.

  12. Vote for Me says:

    LOL There are the never ending comparisons of public and private education. Do you think the reduced school year will help the comparative advantage for private schools. Do you think private schools will shorten their school year??

    I guess saltus will have some ‘figuring’ to do on behalf of Cedarbridge with their new contract!!

  13. Family Man says:

    I guess the education system here isn’t too bad. Our kids don’t need the extra five days anyway.

    It could be worse …
    http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Africa/Africa-Monitor/2013/0827/A-class-of-none-Students-go-0-for-25-000-on-University-of-Liberia-entrance-exam

    “The math was alarmingly simple. Nearly 25,000 students took the entrance exam for the University of Liberia this year, and every one of those nearly 25,000 failed.”

    • Mazumbo says:

      Taking into account that they where in a civil -war for 10 years, 150,000 people where killed, 250,000 people escaped to neighboring states. Imagine what Bermuda’s state of mind would be like!!!!!!!

  14. Story Teller says:

    To all of you keyboard warriors and want to be experts on, well, everything. Where are your suggestions and alternatives for righting the Bermuda ship?

    Even the Unions of the island noted the precarious position that Bermuda is in right now in terms of finances. The pay cut agreed to is a much better deal, for the workers, than the PLP offered 5% and pension freezes, but yet all of you experts stayed quiet or cheered loudly for the decision. A decision that I might add never came to fruition. Do you really think that the Unions who vehemently protect drunk ferry drivers and bus drivers would simply take a 4.6% pay cut because this Government asked them nicely to do so? Of course not, as the Union leaders are sensible enough to understand the problem that we are in at the moment. You guys think the Government is doing this, simply because they can?

    So I ask what are you alternatives to this proposal? Teacher redundancies? Then you will complain that the OBA is anti-Bermudian as the boring mouthpiece that is Alvin Williams keeps on reiterating.

    Or maybe you guys want to keep on the same spending track as the previous administration and eventually default on our financial obligations, due to lack of cash? Then we can be bailed by one of the IMF’s structural adjustment loans. And when that happens then you all will know what true austere measures are and you won’t be able to vote them out once they get their fingers into your pie. Just ask nations such as Jamaica, Haiti, Greece, Argentina, numerous African countries how that has worked out for them so far. I imagine you would be begging for just 5 days off the school year to be shaved. Well if we ever get to that point I guess we can follow Mr. Marc Bean’s vision of Bermudians selling trinkets and sodas to cruise ship passengers as they disembark. By then we won’t even need that many teachers.

    The Government comes up with a creative way to reduce costs and avoid redundancies and yet you still bitch and moan. Personally I am at the point where I believe only the realization of the scenario outlined in my preceding paragraph will allow some to see what position we are ALL in at the moment. Debt knows no color of skin nor political party and you can’t yell a creditor away as they line up for their return on investment.

    But I digress you political zealots and keyboard warriors know better than the Minister of Finance, the Unions and external rating agencies.

    Good luck Bermuda, because at this point in time you will need a lot of it.

    • Time Shall Tell says:

      Education is the LAST thing that should EVER be touched. There are plenty of other areas that could be looked at first, din’t certain politicians just get a 5% pay increase earlier this year? Scroll through the amount the government has given away his year alone to sports, art, etc. (EXTRA curricular activities should take cuts before actual fundamental education). Government sent the Regiment away for training that isn’t actually used here, they payed for 2 weeks of kiddy camp, there are plenty of other areas that should of taken cuts long before education.

  15. Serious though says:

    Schools need extra days not less days! OBA seriously ! Change ??

  16. Time Shall Tell says:

    The education bar has been lowered yet again, thanks politicians (on all sides).

  17. Serious though says:

    I think school should exempted from any form of cuts! This is Bermuda future people! OUR CHILDREN, unless we have become a nation that does not care! We owe these young men and women a good education as a nation, let’s re-think this.. Cut some other areas BUT this is not a great idea. Minister reconsider please. OBA education is key to Bermuda future please!

  18. J Starling says:

    Wow. That Q&A video was painful.

    The Minister was unable to answer a single question, looked confused and seemed to have not understood what he just read out. Nothing against the Minister personally, but you ARE the Minister of Education. You should be setting the example for our students and DO YOUR HOMEWORK before giving a speech and holding a Q&A.

    I have my concerns about the policy being instituted, but I’m going to reserve comment for now.

    • Sad says:

      Jon,

      Everything with you and the OBA seems to be personal. I never remember you posting and protesting so vehemently to Government about their decisions previously and definitely never admonished a Ministers ability or demeanour as you repeatedly do nowadays.

      I thought being such a labor man you would praise the fact that no worker will be made redundant.

      But like many, on both sides of the divide, ones perspective and opinions change (and becomes more vocal apparently), when its not their team making the decision.

      Read the “tired of the moaning” post above as it is apparently from a teacher that is directly impacted by this move, and therefore you can impart your wisdom on us regarding this issue.

      • J Starling says:

        With all due respect, I expect Government Ministers to be able to handle basic questions, especially about a significant policy issue like this.

        I expect them understand the policy that they are representing.

        I expect them to prepare for press conferences, to be able to speak fluently, not just read from a piece of paper, but to be able to respond to it, to comprehend what they are advocating.

        I’m not making any comments on the policy itself, as I stressed in my initial post. My comment is just that I find the Minister, in that Q&A, to be woefully unprepared and unable to answer basic questions.

        Perhaps I expect too much of those who hold in public office?

        The Minister gets a ‘must do better’ comment for his press conference. I hope he learns from this and prepares properly in the future. We deserve better.

        • Wait a minute! says:

          J Starling, you are right in your observations and comments. Leaders, especially in education should be articulate, able to think on their feet, be extremely prepared and able to address issues with passion, fluency and integrity! Education should be leading by example with its elected leaders. Fail to plan (prepare), plan (prepare) to fail….SMDH

        • Family Man says:

          I can’t wait to hear what you have to say about the head of the BIU.

        • DreamCatcher says:

          Jon – I wholeheartedly agree with you. The Education Minister should exemplify what the education standards in Bermuda is aspiring to meet. It was pathetic and painful to watch him fumble and stumble over READING a statement. The questions were not provoking or deep and he should have been able to respond with conviction and authority. He looked like he needed a life line!

  19. andre says:

    Hmmm Cut the school year by 5 days or cut that amount from the overtime budget of Bermuda Police Service. Which would you prefer?

  20. Babylon says:

    The OBA will be a one term govt.

    • Concerned says:

      Why, are you so blind to see the mess that the PLP have left behind. We are in major debt. Yes we the people of this island are in trouble. These measures are minimal, if not done now they could be drastic when there is no money at all, due to not being able to borrow. With no money, how can you import food, medicine, or normal essential to live. Then again, your pen name is perfect, Babylon. The Babylonians were destroyed and their civilization never to come back again as prophesy foretold, I guess that is what you wish for Bermuda through your beloved PLP.

  21. MR says:

    My comment is not about Mr. Heatley, the Minister or Mr Jones but I think the Government should just abolish the role of Education Commissioner. It only ever brings division, drama and controversy. No one can ever agree on the person holding the post – both OBA and PLP.

    All the money we pay this person to manage education and it’s still not fixed to a particular standard. Just get rid of it.

    • You people have no idea!!!! says:

      I agree! That would save the Government lots of money.

    • Wait a minute! says:

      Good suggestion…a school system this small could do with less top heavy bureaucrats. Maybe have only a PS and CoE and scrap all the positions beneath (2 Directors, 5 Assistant Directors, etc… SMDH). They can then deal directly with school principals more efficiently and effectively.

  22. You people have no idea!!!! says:

    First of all, I think it’s a shame that only (or at least at this present time) GOV workers are the only ones helping this poor country to get out of debt. Secondly, it was agreed that ALL Gov workers will take 12 unpaid, unworked days to assist this country. Everyone agreed/voted. Now they are saying teachers are only getting FIVE!!!! That’s unfair. You all can talk about the education system all you want. If parents did their damn jobs and got their heads out of their a$$es and stopped worrying about the clothes on their children’s backs and more about education, the system may be in a better state. But no parents are sitting on their a**es doing nothing for the first 5 years of their children’s lives and then expect miracles. Like Tired of the moaning said it’s not like on those days they are going to be engaged in school work. Between guest speakers, honors assemblies and parties they are not missing out on much. So all of you complaining why don’t you contact the SAGE Commission and give some better ideas, if not shut up!!!!

  23. Triangle Drifter says:

    Well, here we go, another opportunity to privatise public schools. Issue education vouchers to be used at the school of the parents choice. This would save at least $3000 per student per year since that is how much more public education costs over the MOST expensive private school.

    Public secondary schools already get what amounts to over one lesson less a week than some of the private schools. They get out earlier. The time adds up. That over 12 lessons less per term in public secondary schools. Whats that? 2, 3 days less of school per term for the students, 6 to 9 days less education days per year?

    It seems like more school days are needed, not less.

  24. Wait a minute! says:

    How is this going to work? All the other civil servants are required to take a day off a month equating to 12 unpaid days a year and a 4.6% cut monthly. But…. teachers only have to lose 5 unpaid days a year. This lose 4.6% and take an unpaid day off nonsense was initiated and rushed through by the UNIONS, not the government or the SAGE Commission. And the UNIONS did not offer a 4.6% cut in their dues (go figure)! Too many loop holes for inequities! A better solution if we ALL cared is to simply take the 4.6% pay cut and work our normal schedules (35 hours per week/4 weeks per month). Why add the not working a day in exchange especially since there will be huge inequities which will breed resentment!!!! For example, public works can easily make their day up with over time or for covering a person taking their unpaid day off. Someone needs to say STOP now before we have huge unrest. Everyone should have to take the same amount of pay cut/unpaid days off or scrap the idea until all the kinks are worked out!!!! The nightmare will be in the management of this…I have a headache thinking about it. You know the saying KISS…keep it simple stupid…. just take the 4.6% pay cut and keep working!

  25. Where does/did the Minister send his kids to school?

    • frank says:

      some one should have asked that question most education ministers that had chidren whent to private school

  26. navin johnson says:

    much discussion about days off etc. and last I heard the children start school next Friday….could they pick a more inconvenient day for parents to start the school year? open schools on a Friday for one day? start it on Monday..

  27. Infidelguy says:

    Watching the the Q&A session was like watching a comedy act. LOL!!!!

    Or more like watching a Puppet Act where the puppet was speaking for the Puppet Master but forgot to put his hand in the appropriate position.

    LMAO!!!!