SD51 reports high graduation rates for 2010-11

At a recent School District 51 (SD51) meeting, trustees discussed various issues, including no-stopping zones and graduation rates.

Heather Shilton

At this month’s School District 51 (SD51) meeting, trustees discussed various issues, including no-stopping zones in front of schools.

Increase in graduation rates

Graduation rates have increased since the 2006-2007 school year from 81.1 per cent to 94.2 per cent in 2010-2011.

The aboriginal graduate percentage has also increased, going from 69.8 per cent in 2006-2007, to 86.7 per cent in 2010-2011.

“I haven’t seen the province’s statistics for this year, but it’s usually static at around 79 per cent,” stated Superintendent of Schools Michael Strukoff. “The five year trend is very positive for us.”

In a conversation with the ministry, Strukoff contributed the success on their “emphasis on special education, family centres … and support from around the community.

“There is no silver bullet that says if you do this, then it will go in this direction,” he concluded.

Graduation rate indicates how many students have managed to stay in school full-time until graduation.

No stopping in school zones

Heather Shilton, Healthy Schools co-ordinator, discussed the program Active Transportation, by arriving at school the healthy way and dealing with air quality.

“The safety of students is paramount. Car congestion in front of schools is a huge safety issue,” stated Shilton.

She spoke to several parent advisory councils (PACs) about the idea of no-stopping zones in front of schools. Hutton, Christina Lake and Perley

She explained that the no stopping zone would be a certain cut-off area in front of the school.

“If we promoted that, parents can come, drop their kids off and the kids can walk a little bit,” explained Shilton. “I’ve left PACs with maps and proposals, but so far they haven’t gotten back to me.”

Grand Forks received a grant

Grand Forks is one of six cities within the Kootenay Boundary region to be given a grant by the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.

“It identified a second wave of six communities and Grand Forks was selected,” stated Strukoff. “They’re inviting us to put together a package of possible programs and activities in a general way, looking to recruit vulnerable children for after school activities.”

The grant extends to students in Grade 8 for three years.

“(The grant) is looking for ways to develop the community that will carry on after the funding ends,” said Strukoff. “This is like a pilot program that will hopefully happen across B.C. at some point.”

“The priority is for kids who don’t have opportunities,” clarified Maxine Ruzicka, director of instruction.

Christman to receive support

Trustees at SD51 have agreed to write a letter of support for a GFSS high school student Myles Christman to play volleyball at Mount Sentinel near Castlegar.

The issue was raised when B.C. School Sports declared Christman ineligible to play volleyball at Mount Sentinel, even though his older brother was given permission under similar circumstances.

“What’s happening in rural areas like ours now, our West Kootenay zone, the competition has declined dramatically for kids. The number of sports that are being offered (has dropped because of) the declining enrolment has reduced the number of students, which is a contributing factor,” explained Strukoff.

The family currently has a lawyer working on their case pro-bono and hopes to have everything settled for next year.

“We don’t have any extraordinary influence than anyone else would have but I think that the feeling was, should the board of education add their support to the family to have B.C. School Sports waive this particular eligibility rule (for next year),” continued Strukoff.

Trustee Cathy Riddle pointed out the issue needs to be addressed on a larger scale.

“With the declining enrolment and declining offering of any kind of sport, we’re going to run into this way more often,” stated Riddle. “I think we’d be far better served if we asked them to take a look at the rural schools in particular.

“If we just write it for one single request, we’ll be facing this over and over again.”

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