Students return to public school next week

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.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Smoky skies clearing throughout B.C. Interior

Environment Canada expects “widespread” improvement for all affected areas by Sunday

Interior Health reports three additional COVID-19 cases in region

The number of cases in the region since the beginning of the pandemic are now at 492

‘This is a very difficult sentencing’; Judge delays Kiera Bourque manslaughter trial to next week

The courts heard Friday that Bourque “did not intend to cause harm” but that her actions were “reckless”

COVID-19 minimizes Okanagan Regional Library budget increase

Library adapts to pandemic fiscal disruptions

Interior Health continues to tackle COVID-19

IH president Susan Brown says don’t become complacent about pandemic

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Stranger in truck grabs boy walking home from school in Kelowna

The 11-year-old boy escaped the incident, RCMP are investigating

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

70-year-old punched in the head in dispute over disability parking space in Nanaimo

Senior’s turban knocked off in incident at mall parking lot

Most Read