With the conclusion of our year-long consultation with school councils on a common school calendar, I would like to thank school council members for their participation in the process and for the ideas and insights they have brought forward.
Many views have been shared in regard to the proposed move to a common calendar. As minister of education, I can say the main rationale for a common calendar is to improve student achievement levels and graduation rates by providing all students, particularly those in rural areas, with equal access to educational expertise, programs and resources.
For students in rural areas, this would provide the option to attend some of the same courses being offered in Whitehorse via distance technology. This is much more difficult if school years begin at varying times.
An amended school calendar also needs to accommodate the 15 additional hours of instruction and 15 hours of professional development for teachers outlined in the Education Act review. Additional budget dollars will be made available to compensate teachers on a pro-rated basis for these new responsibilities.
Currently, the graduation rate for rural students is 61 per cent, a full 19 per cent behind the graduation rate in Whitehorse. Clearly, this is not an acceptable state of affairs and we must take steps to ensure that all students have the same opportunities for success.
I look forward to reviewing the results of the recent consultation, weighing all the options presented, and fulfilling my legislated obligation to set the school calendar by March 31.
Yukon minister of education