SD57 Classes Start Today
Prince George, B.C.- There will be plenty of activity in and around school zones today, as today is the first day back to school for students in School District 57 and it will be a year of challenges for the Board that governs SD57.
Board of Trustees Chair Tony Cable says the issue of declining enrollment is impacting rural schools the hardest “Rural education will be a major issue for us as we will have to work to provide schools in Mackenzie, McBride and Valemount with the resources they need.”
Rural schools are facing capacity issues, and Cable says more work needs to be done to convince the Province that rural schools aren’t just about the numbers of students filling seats. “We just can’t ask people to drive two hours to get to school and another 2 hours to get home.”
The issue is not new, as Giscome Elementary faced a similar challenge a few years ago. At the time the question was whether or not that school (which had been declared unsafe) could be rebuilt, or if students would be bused to Buckhorn. Bussing students would have meant long drives to and from class a hardship no one wanted to place on young elementary school students. In the end, the decision was made to create a school that would also be a centre for the community.
Cable admits there will have to be some difficult decisions made this year, as some schools in the District are at, or passed what would be considered their expected lifespan. “There are a number of schools which we will have to look at retooling, or possibly rebuilding” says Cable who adds “School closures are always a last resort.”
Cable is hopeful arrangements can be made to have the Provincial Minster of Education visit School District 57 this fall so the issue of the challenges of rural education can be discussed and experienced first hand.
On a more positive note, Cable is beaming about SD57’s French Immersion enrollment numbers, “The program has become very popular and we are close to setting a record for enrollment.” He is also pleased with how the year is getting underway “We don’t have any labour disputes, so that in itself is a big improvement over last year.” Last year, the start of the school year was delayed because of the teachers strike.
Drivers are reminded to obey the school zone signs, and not to pass school buses that have flashing red lights.