Back to business at Sea to Sky schools 

Semester system will be altered to make up for lost time

click to enlarge WWW.SHUTTERSTOCK.COM - back to business Schools in the Sea to Sky District are back in session, with enrolment numbers about on par with previous years.
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  • back to business Schools in the Sea to Sky District are back in session, with enrolment numbers about on par with previous years.

The semester system will be slightly altered for secondary students in the Sea to Sky School District this year to accommodate for time lost due to the teachers' strike, which ended Sept. 22.

"Because there were lost days of instruction at the beginning of the year, it had the potential effect of having a very short first semester and then a regular second semester," said school superintendent Lisa McCullough in explaining why the change was made.

"In order to not disadvantage the students in their first semester courses we've balanced the two, so now both semesters will be about the same length of time."

To accomplish that, the district has extended the first semester to the end of January, with school-based exams and provincial exams scheduled for February.

The board is also undertaking a 30-day consultation period to decide what to do with scheduled collaboration days in schools in Whistler and Pemberton.

"There's sort of three options there," McCullough said.

"Leave it alone, cancel them and redo the bell schedule, or just amend them, which also means redoing the bell schedule, but not as significantly."

The board will be consulting with parents, staff and student councils before making any decisions.

In a September 12 memo to all school districts in the province, the Ministry of Education said it would be reclaiming all savings incurred due to the strike.

McCullough said it's not a matter of returning funding, but a change to the way the district is funded for the 2014/15 school year.

"It would just be a matter of being funded from the perspective that school starts on such and such a date, so we don't actually return anything, we just won't receive the funding that we would have needed for those first few weeks in September," she said.

"It will affect us, except there were also services we weren't providing... so we're not anticipating anything specific around that right now. It should be money that we don't need because we weren't teaching."

But the district will also receive $801,000 through the Learning Improvement Fund (LIF) as a result of the bargaining between the BCTF and the BCPSEA.

"Not all of that is new money," McCullough said.

Previously, the Ministry of Education doled out $75 million to the various school districts through its LIF, of which the Sea to Sky District received about $632,000.

The addition to the LIF means about $120,000 more for teacher jobs in the district, McCullough said.

"That's exactly where it will go, to add on time to teachers that already have assignments or to hire new teachers," she said.

The strike appears to have had little effect on enrolment numbers in the district, with numbers on par or exceeding those seen in previous years.

At Whistler Secondary there are 391 students registered, while Spring Creek has 315 and Myrtle Philip has 285.

Forty-six students are enrolled in French Immersion at Whistler Secondary, while Spring Creek has 90.

"It's fairly steady. I would say at both Spring Creek and Myrtle Philip our numbers are up," McCullough said.

The biggest surprise has come with the number of Kindergartners enrolled at Myrtle Philip — 54 compared to a projected 39.

District-wide there are 4,540 students registered, including 219 international students from 32 different countries.

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