Board wants PRMS answers
After Education Minister Mike Bernier toured Prince Rupert Middle School (PRMS) in late March to take note of its deteriorating condition, the Prince Rupert School District (SD52) school board resolved to send a letter to the ministry inquiring as to why Minister Bernier only knew about the need for a middle school replacement for three weeks.
“How could it be that the minister was not made aware by his staff? Because he was very clear to point out it had nothing to do with our staff, it had everything to do with his staff,” said board chair Tina Last.
“We assume when we send the letter, that lands on the minister of education’s desk somehow, and that was an assumption we shouldn’t have made … Maybe part of that letter would be also to reach out to our partners to support that letter with us on advocating for the school. Yes, you’ve shared with us you’ve only known about it for three weeks, but we’re here to tell you it’s been a lot longer,” she said.
Trustee Terri-Lynne Huddlestone said that anything they can do to keep it on the province’s mind, the better.
“Whoever’s next in power hopefully will be making the decision to remedy this sooner rather than later,” she said.
Board defeats $10aDay daycare support
The SD52 board of education defeated trustee Louisa Sanchez’s motion to send a letter to the ministry, supporting the $10aDay Child Care Plan on a tie.
While board members said they supported the plan in theory, the dangers of necessitating extreme amounts of funds from already assigned money in education was a sticking point for some, and the push for cheaper daycare was also at odds with money being spent on more classroom spaces for Lower Mainland schools.
“At the moment we have free education and it’s a right for all children, but this only starts at five-years-old and the fundamental building blocks starts long before that. That’s why I believe if we send a letter here, it would help with the funding and help families in the long run,” said Sanchez.
“I would have thought $10aDay suits us better than more spaces, but Vancouver has a big push on more spaces … But that doesn’t mean we don’t need to advocate the way we want and not the way Vancouver wants it,” added Horne.
But it was met with resistance from other board members.
“As a school district, we would be asking to take money – scarce money – and put it into childcare, and that’s good but it’s got to come from somewhere. Will it come from education? That’s a lot of spaces. If we were funding every child in B.C. with daycare, how much money would that look like?” said board chair Tina Last.
Two-week spring break approved
For the second year in a row, the school board and teachers’ union have approved a two-week spring break. In 2017-18, the break will take place from Monday, March 12 to Friday, March 23, 2018. The school calendar includes 180 days of instruction, seven Pro-D days (schools not in session) and one administrative day. Kindergarten students receive 848 hours of instruction, Grades 1 to 7 students receive 873 hours and Grades 8 to 12 students receive 947 hours of instruction.
Enrolment drops again
As of March 31, the number of students in SD52 classrooms stood at 1,945 – a five-student drop from the previous month. 2016-17 is the first time the student population has dropped below 2,000 for the first time in over a decade.