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

SLIDESHOW: Blue River cross-country ski races awards ceremony

A lot of proud youngsters following the races – justifiably proud

SLIDESHOW: Blue River cross-country ski races – part three

Third part of three-part slideshow of races held Wednesday

SLIDESHOW: Blue River cross-country ski races – part two

Part three of race slideshow plus awards event still to come

COFI seeks 2018 forestry scholarship applicants

Ten $1,500 scholarships are awarded to students pursuing a career in the forest industry

SLIDESHOW: Blue River cross-country ski races – part one

More photos of ski races plus awards ceremony to come

VIDEO: What you need to know today at the B.C. Games

B.C. Winter Games athletes work for gold in the last full day of competition

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.

Bobsleigh team misses Olympic medal finish

Canadian team finishes four-man event 0.84 seconds behind first place, 0.31 seconds from podium

B.C. Games: Athletes talk Team Canada at PyeongChang 2018

From Andi Naudie to Evan McEachran there’s an Olympian for every athlete to look up to

Snowboarders sliding into fresh territory at B.C. Games

Athletes hit the slopes for first appearance as an event at the B.C. Winter Games in Kamloops

Cariboo woman raises funds for Seizure Investigation Unit beds at VGH

VGH Foundation gets VCH approval to begin fundraising for SIU beds; local efforts are paying off

Looking back at the 1979 B.C. Games: Good memories, even better jackets

39 years later, Kamloops is hosting the Winter Games again, with some volunteers returning

OLYMPICS 101: Oldest and youngest Canadians to reach the podium

This year, Canada sent its most athletes in Winter Games history, here’s a look at record breakers

BCHL Today: Cowichan Caps play spoiler and Nanaimo wins 10th straight game

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

Most Read