B.C. school enrolment up for second year

Some urban districts struggle with overcrowding, special funds for declining rural schools, bus service to take effect

Students are returning to class next week in most of B.C.’s public schools, with enrolment expected to be up province-wide for the second year running.

Education Minister Mike Bernier says early forecasts show about 529,000 students, an increase of 2,900 from last year. But that increase is centred on fast-growing school districts, while many rural areas continue to struggle with declining student numbers.

Among changes that parents and students will see this year is a new curriculum in place up to Grade 9, with a test year for changes in the senior grades. Bernier said the new emphasis on collaboration and communication skills does not mean a watering down of the basic skills, and is designed to improve students’ ability to work at modern jobs.

Report cards are to continue this school year, but the ministry is reviewing its system with an eye to providing more frequent updates. Parents are being consulted on the changes, Bernier said.

Foundation Skills Assessment tests in grades four and seven are also continuing after years of protests from teacher unions, but that program is also being examined for possible changes. FSA tests will be “enhanced” but not eliminated, Bernier said.

Provincial exams continue for graduates in math and English, but science and social studies will now be assessed at a classroom level rather than school-wide tests, Bernier said.

The ministry provided a series of top-ups to education funding this year, for bus service and to keep selected rural schools from closing. Applications are still being taken for a transportation fund until Sept. 30, requiring districts to drop across-the-board school bus fees to qualify.

Districts may still charge transportation fees for international students or those from outside a school catchment area.

NDP leader John Horgan highlighted the crowding in Surrey school district, where 7,000 students remain in portables despite an expansion program. The NDP says the B.C. government’s claim of record per-student funding ignores a reduction of education funding as a share of the provincial economy.

“Since 2001, the B.C. Liberals have dragged public education funding in this province from the second best in Canada to the second worst,” Horgan said.

 

Just Posted

B.C. freestyle skier wins gold

Cassie Sharpe of Comox shines in the halfpipe

Caps’ Pochipinski locks up scholarship

Forward bound for Colorado College

Duncan man gets jail time for beating puppy to death

Robert Carolan is also banned from owning animals for a decade

VIDEO: Sweetheart Dance packs the Lake Cowichan 50+ Centre

Seniors team up with Cowichan Women Against Violence for a Valentine’s Day fundraising dance

Coming up in Cowichan: Irrigation; Palestinian children; fun with fungi

The Cowichan Watershed Board is presenting a free efficient irrigation workshop

COLUMN: Benning stands firm on Gudbranson, will keep him with Canucks until 2021

Canucks opt to not trade the 26-year-old defenseman, but sign him to multi-year deal

Students head to Florida capital to press for gun law change

Young protestors are joining a grassroots movement against gun violence in the wake of last week’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida

Liberals look at use-it-or-lose-it parental leave for dads

Liberals looking at creating a use-it-or-lose-it leave for fathers, Trudeau says

Fred Rogers, America’s favourite neighbour, celebrated in 2018

The golden anniversary of America’s favorite neighbor is being celebrated with a PBS special next month

Toddler breaks leg after boot sucked into escalator at Vancouver airport

A Calgary woman is reminding parents of the dangers of escalators after her toddler’s foot was stuck in one and he broke his leg

Moose creates uber Canadian Olympic moment

A Calgary man shares a truly Canadian moment on Twitter of a Moose enjoying the Olympics

The Wounded Warrior Run makes it to Woss

Feb. 20 marks the Woss to Sayward leg of the run

Most Read