The annual process of developing next year’s school calendar is on hold until the province announces new regulations over how calendars are to be drawn up.
The new regulations, said School District 48 Superintendent Lisa McCullough, are expected to change significantly to allow more flexibility in the process.
“The process right now is to wait until we have a new school regulation attached to the calendar process for next year and that is coming from the Ministry of Education,” she said. “There is no point in getting started and frustrating everybody by having the rules change.
“We are hoping by having flexibility we can craft our own calendar for the district.”
School board chair Rick Price said there is no indication yet what those changes would be, but the board would like to at least see the ability to plan multiple-year calendars added to the process.
“It is the board’s goal to do it more than one year in advance so we don’t spend so much time developing the calendar each year,” Price said, adding it also provides certainty to families and staff to plan their lives in advance. “Our preference would be to go to a considerable amount of effort and develop a three-year calendar.”
The hope is that there will be more flexibility to craft a calendar specific to the district and the needs of the communities within it. Once the new regulations are in place, he said there will be consultation with each community.
However, Price said added flexibility will have to be weighed against other considerations such as aligning timetables between the region’s high schools to expand class offerings district wide.
Each of the three high schools is small and is therefore unable to offer a full slate of courses. With the advent of technology like video conferencing, students may have the ability to attend courses in other schools, but only if the timetables for each school are aligned.
He said that means there is an advantage to aligning timetables, but that means also aligning calendars between communities with different needs.
Board headed to High Tech High
Six of the seven trustees will head to San Diego next week to take part in a three-day course at High Tech High.
The trip, which is estimated to cost up to $15,000, is in lieu of trustees attending the annual fall education conference being held in Vancouver in November. That conference traditionally costs the district approximately $6,000 for trustees to attend.
McCullough said the board has undertaken a “hefty schedule” to develop four planning documents this year. That includes a strategic plan at the board level, a three-to-five-year education plan, a technology plan that will support the education plan and an Aboriginal educational plan to meet the distinct needs of First Nations students in the district.
She said the intensive learning session at High Tech High is to give the board the opportunity to make more informed decisions when the strategic planning documents come before them.
“It is clear that the board of trustees will have some really important decisions to make,” agreed Price. “The board is determined to be very well informed so it can make really informed decisions… a number of innovative practices such that we may want to be looking at here in the Sea to Sky School District have been implemented at High Tech High.”
He said the board wants to learn from the experiences of educators and students in the program and apply those lessons to the local context.
The trustees will take courses on strategic planning, learn about the ways that school has developed its plans and then see it being implemented at the classroom level, McCullough said.
Class sizes remain below threshold
McCullough indicated at the board meeting last Wednesday (Oct. 10) the class size report for the district is being prepared for the Ministry of Education.
She said district-wide, all classes remain below 30 students.
“I can tell you in our district right now we have no classes over 30,” McCullough said.
Trustees were also given details on the number of students enrolled in the district as of Sept. 28.
Student enrolment plays a part in educational funding on a per-pupil basis. District wide there are 4,211 students enrolled, which is 42 students above what the district predicted. It is also an increase of 33 over last year’s enrollment of 4,178 students.