The 31st of March was the deadline for towns to state whether they were going to implement the new school hours for primary schools from September 2013 or September 2014. Most of them have chosen to start next year. Why? Mainly due to lack of funds. On the face of things the new ideas seem quite simple: children will work the same number of hours but those hours will be spread over 4 and a half days in order to lighten the workload, but what do you do with the extra hours you have left? Spreading the workload over an extra half day means that ¾ hour of each school day is now surplus to requirements. The teachers are not allowed to work in that time which means that the cost of ‘entertaining’ the children
falls onto the commune, many of whom are making cutbacks as they don’t have the funds to support the staff they already have. So what are our options?
The children can finish school ¾ hour earlier at 3.45pm - for those who don’t work or can be flexible then this might not pose a big problem, but what about those working parents who don’t finish until later? They will have to pay more for the péri-scolaire system.
Do the children take the extra ¾ hour at lunchtime? For those parents with children at the canteen, this would also mean paying more. In addition to this, lunchtime would then run from 11.30 - 1.45pm and school would finish half an hour later… our children would be spending more time at school but most of it on breaks!
Another aspect to discuss is what the children will do in the extra ¾ hour? Play in the playground (not really feasible in the mountains during winter), workshops - qualified staff would be required to look after the children. Think how many you would need for the Les Houches school alone which has 260 children! Chamonix has 3 primary schools… The financial aspects of the proposed changes are still being debated in most owns up and down the country. I will keep you informed if I hear any new updates.
Many of you will have heard rumours that the Auto Entrepreneur system will be closing down. The Auto Entrepreneur system which was set up in 2009 has been at the heart of many debates during the presidential campaigns of last year, most notably from Hollande. As President he proposed amongst many ideas: increased taxes to bring the regime in line with other regimes, limiting the statut to 2 years maximum, or even exclusion of certain trades (not all trades are allowed in the Auto Entrepreneur regime). Many Auto Entrepreneurs were worried that their livelihood was about to disappear. Facing many complaining artisans, the Economics minister and Production minister have always voted in favour of keeping this regime which has seduced more than 1 million people since it started in January 2009. It currently generates figures of 15.3bn€ which will be sorely missed in these testing times if the regime was to disappear. Last week, first indications in a report published by Sylvia Pinel the minister for l’Artisanat et l’Inspection générale des Affaires Sociales and the Inspection Générale des Finances was favourable to keeping the regime in the form we know it today. This information has to be signed off by the prime minister before becoming official, although the 3bn€ in social security contributions will, hopefully, go some way to appeasing him! If you are an Auto Entrepreneur then remember that your next payments will be April 30th.
I know that there are those out there who don’t know when the bank holidays fall in France so here they are:
Wednesday May 1st -fête du travail
Wednesday May 8th - anniversary of the end of WW2
Thursday May 9th - Ascension
Monday 20th May - Pentecost
Sunday 14th July - National holiday
Thursday 15th August - Assumption
Friday November 1st - Toussaint
Monday November 11th - Armistice
Wednesday December 25th - Christmas
With these titbits I will leave you to enjoy the rest of the snow or keep your fingers crossed for more sunshine! In the meantime, if you miss me… I put general updates on my Facebook page at the following address: www.facebook.com/communiquer74 <http://www.facebook.com/communiquer74>
I hope to hear from you soon.
Help with paperwork, phone calls and official translations.