Back to school by the (big) num­bers

Par­ents spend­ing mil­lions of dol­lars stock­ing up on sup­plies, equip­ment, cloth­ing and shoes

The Province - - NEWS - SU­SAN LAZARUK

School’s back for au­tumn. More than half a mil­lion stu­dents in Grades K-12 are head­ing back to class af­ter the Labour Day long week­end. Here’s a com­pi­la­tion of some im­por­tant num­bers for fans of ’rith­metic to launch the school year.

537,589 Stu­dents ex­pected to en­rol in B.C. public schools.

That’s 4,232 more stu­dents than last year, ac­cord­ing to B.C.’s Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion. Last school year there were 66,665 stu­dents with spe­cial needs (up 2.2 per cent over the pre­vi­ous year), 69,032 Indige­nous stu­dents (down 1,279), 66,285 English lan­guage learn­ing stu­dents (down 394) and 53,768 French im­mer­sion stu­dents (up 677). Plus there were 83,497 in­de­pen­dent school stu­dents (up 1,838). There were 25,000 dis­tance-learn­ing stu­dents in B.C. last year, or al­most five per cent of public school en­rol­ment.

71,838 Num­ber of stu­dents in largest school district.

Sur­rey is home to the largest school district, with 71,838 stu­dents (2016/2017), fol­lowed by Van­cou­ver, 52,247; Co­quit­lam, 33,033; Burn­aby, 25,120; and Cen­tral Okana­gan (Kelowna), 22,092. The small­est dis­tricts are Stikine (Dease Lake), 181 stu­dents; Cen­tral Coast (Ha­gens­borg), 221; Nisga’a (New Aiyansh), 385; Van­cou­ver Is­land West (Gold River), 390; and Ar­row Lakes (Nakusp), 440.

$5.9 bil­lion is bud­geted for schools in the 2017-18 fis­cal year.

The bud­get for B.C.’s 1,566 public schools and 360 in­de­pen­dent schools works out to about $9,100 a year per stu­dent. About $1 bil­lion funds schools with spe­cial needs stu­dents. Some $376 mil­lion is the amount the gov­ern­ment will spend to hire new teach­ers and spe­cialty teach­ers for this school year.

83 per cent of stu­dents com­plete high school.

In the 2015-16 school year, 83 per cent of stu­dents in public schools earned their high school diploma (96 per cent of French im­mer­sion stu­dents, 87 per cent of English lan­guage learn­ers and 64 per cent of Indige­nous stu­dents.)

$883 What Cana­di­ans ex­pect to spend on sup­plies.

It’s com­put­ers ($580 on av­er­age) and smart­phones ($250) that push the to­tal up, ac­cord­ing to an An­gus Reid poll. School sup­plies cost up to $100 per fam­ily and shoes an­other $300. The $883 per fam­ily is $325 more than fam­i­lies spent on Christ­mas gifts last year, the sur­vey found.

$1,502 Is spent on av­er­age by house­holds on ed­u­ca­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to Sta­tis­tics Canada, in 2014 Cana­dian house­holds spent $1,502 on ed­u­ca­tion spend­ing. That in­cludes tu­ition fees for kinder­garten, el­e­men­tary, sec­ondary schools, univer­sity and other post-sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion (col­lege, trade and pro­fes­sional cour­ses), text­books, school sup­plies and other cour­ses and lessons.

$764.8 mil­lion Was spent in July-Septem­ber 2015

It’s the sec­ond-busi­est shop­ping pe­riod. To­tal spend­ing on sta­tionery, of­fice sup­plies, cards, gift wrap and party sup­plies in Canada in the third quar­ter of 2015 was up 0.6 per cent from 2014, ac­cord­ing to Sta­tis­tics Canada. In that same quar­ter, Cana­di­ans spent $281.6 mil­lion on girls’ cloth­ing and ac­ces­sories (up 3.9 per cent from 2014), and $271 mil­lion on boys’ cloth­ing and ac­ces­sories (up 9.9 per cent).


This year, Cana­dian fam­i­lies ex­pect to spend an av­er­age of $883 to send their chil­dren back to school. The big­gest ex­pense is com­put­ers ($580 on av­er­age), smart­phones ($250), fol­lowed by shoes and school sup­plies.

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