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Education ministry releases back-to-school statistics

The B.C. ministry of education today released a "snapshot" of the education system on the eve of the new school year, claiming small classes and better funding than ever before.

A news release posted on the ministry's website offered the following numbers on student enrolment:

•534,691 estimated full-time public school students this September, compared to 540,696 for the September 2011 estimate (6,005 fewer students).

•A decrease of more than 63,000 students since 2000-2001.

•58,962 estimated English Language Learning (ELL) students - 202 fewer than last year.

•54,031 estimated Aboriginal students - 258 fewer than last year.

•23,832 estimated full-time students with special needs for 2012-13 - 38 fewer than last year.

•6,903 estimated non-graduated adult students - 613 more than last year.

Class size, the ministry said, is low:

•At 16.7, the ratio of students per teacher/administrator has remained relatively stable over the past decade.

•For the sixth consecutive year, more than 94 per cent of classes in school districts throughout B.C. had 30 or fewer students.

•In 2011-12, 99 per cent of classes had 32 or fewer students.

School funding is at record highs, the ministry said:

•Estimated operating funding to school districts is a record $4.725 billion this year - a $4-million increase over 2011-12.

•Since 2000-01, government has increased funding to B.C. public schools by nearly $1.4 billion: a 26 per cent increase in operating funding ($981 million) and $407 million in one-time grants.

•The average per-pupil funding for 2012-13 is now an estimated $8,493, up 36 per cent since 2000-01.

•Total funding for students with special needs is now an estimated $866 million for 2012-13.

The release also noted that in 2010-11, the provincial six-year completion rate for high school was 81 per cent. That is, four out of five students who were in grade 8 in 2005 had graduated by 2011. As well, 78,650 B.C. students took at least one online course in 2011-12, compared to 33,022 students four year ago.

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

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