Vancouver School Board superintendent Steve Cardwell signalled that the VSB may have backed further away from the prospect of year-round schooling, or what he calls a balanced calendar, when he spoke to the Courier the Thursday before school started.
Last year, board management recommended that a feasibility study regarding year-round schooling be undertaken centring on the University Hill family of schools. The board subsequently opted for a more cautious approach that didn’t target particular schools.
Cardwell said Aug. 29 that year-round schooling would have to be a community-based initiative and possibly come from a parent advisory council, or PAC. It would be prudent for a new school, such as the elementary school being built downtown at International Village, to try a new schedule, he said, or schools that have close connections to a post-secondary institution, such as those near the University of B.C.
“One of the challenges would be that if any one school was to change to year-round schooling and parents have children in an elementary school and a secondary school, they need to be able to coordinate the time off,” he noted.
More continuous schooling could particularly benefit certain groups of kids.
“For students who are more at risk in terms of learning, vulnerable students, [English as a] second language students, that long summer period seems to be maybe just a bit too long,” Cardwell said. “It doesn’t mean that summer will disappear. We had over, I think it was about 16,000, 17,000 students this summer taking summer school in Vancouver, so you have year-round schooling already.”
The Vancouver School District projected enrolment to drop by up to 1,000 students this year, a trend that’s common across the province, according to Cardwell, who noted enrolment was also flat in Surrey. At the same time, the VSB has attracted a record number of international students, with 1,300 international students from 28 countries enrolled at VSB elementary and secondary schools and adult education centres.
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