Annual provincial funding for extracurricular activities is helping to bring students in distance education face to face.
As part of its annual gaming grant program, the B.C. government has provided to School District 91’s parent advisory councils (PAC) about $79,900 this year for student activities outside class — for virtual and physical schools.
For the online-based EBUS Academy, which enrols students across the province, the funding has gone into scholarships, as well as student-led and parent-led activities that gather students together, said the academy’s PAC president Jean Bowen.
“Sometimes you’ll have several kids in the same community that do get together on a regular basis that are with EBUS,” Bowen said. “There are other groups who will by choice get together for the support, for the fun, for the social interaction.”
She added that students, for example, may participate in science and art programs organized for homeschoolers by the local university and art gallery.
“The kids, as much as they are not in a bricks-and-mortar school, they are by no means…isolated,” Bowen said. “Some of them will be with peers an awful lot as well.”
A large portion of the grant contributes to scholarships for the distance education students, she added.
“A lot of the ones who are graduating have been with EBUS for a long time, so it’s kind of a nice way to start them off,” Bowen said.
The provincial funding is granted upon each council’s application at the end of the school year, with $20 provided to a local PAC for each student and a fixed amount to district PACs.
“Parents help provide our students with a well-rounded education by organizing a variety of extracurricular activities throughout the school year,” Nechako Lake MLA John Rustad said.
In B.C. for the 2015-16 school year, close to $11.1 million has been delivered to more than 1,400 PACs and DPACs throughout the province.