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.

 

Just Posted

Quilter’s placemat project brightens Maeford Place table settings

Quesnel quilter creates placemats for senior residents at Maeford Place

Letter: raising minimum wage was one of first acts of new government

Improving affordability for people is one of NDP government’s key priorities

Students show focus in annual Elementary School Cross-country Ski races

Students age five to 12 competed at Hallis Lake on Feb. 17

Quesnel Hospital Auxiliary always busy and put in 12,000 volunteer hours in 2017

Winter can be a time of quiet reflection on the past and where we are today

VIDEO: B.C. superfans soak in 2018 PyeongChang Olympics

Trio, including two from the Okanagan, have been cheering on Summerland Olympian Kripps among others in Korea

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

B.C. ski cross racer wins Olympic gold

Kelowna’s Kelsey Serwa wins the gold medal in thrilling fashion in PyeongChang

Via Rail’s unofficial travelling art program

Jasper-Prince Rupert train has a car dedicated to art offered by the one-of-a-kind Bruce Brown

New charges against ex-Trump campaign associates

More charges were laid Thursday against President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman and his business associate

Man accused in death of Winnipeg teen Tina Fontaine not guilty

Raymond Cormier was accused of killing Indigenous 15-year-old and dumping her body in the Red River

Okanagan real estate agents brace for speculation tax impact

“There’s a real potential for a domino effect to hurt the market in Kelowna.”

Alberta drops B.C. wine boycott, Notley says Horgan ‘blinked’ on pipeline

B.C. government announces court reference on proposed diluted bitumen restriction

B.C. businesses say new health tax will raise prices for consumers

Province announced that MSP will be gone by 2020

Most Read