FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — School District 60 Superintendent Stephen Petrucci is excited for the school year to begin with a “more normal” start.

Petrucci says this past spring, when some of the restrictions were removed, it was a “huge relief.”

“When you started to see some of the extracurricular stuff happen, it was really great for both the kids and the staff,” he explained.

“Overall, the staff and the families did a terrific job of exercising a great deal of patience.”

He says there are currently no mandates in place, but they will continue to encourage proper handwashing and vaccination.

“It will feel like a regular startup this September,” he said.

One of the new elements in education this year is the $60 million back-to-school affordability fund B.C.’s Ministry of Education announced on Monday.

“It looks like we’ll get about $680,000 for the district,” Petrucci said.

He says this money will go towards structures and programs already in place in School District 60 for meal programs and field trip funds to help families who may not be able to afford those things post-COVID.

Gaps in education as the pandemic fades are not a major concern, Petrucci says, as students remained in school. Staff have already been working with students and families to address any concerns or struggles in learning.

“They’ve been doing that all last year and they’ll continue to do that this year,” he said.

According to Petrucci, the student population is sitting at 6,400 students, which is about 50 more than last year.

That number may change within the first couple of weeks of school, he says.

The superintendent would also like to encourage any families who may not have registered yet to contact the school this week, as administration staff and secretaries are in the office.

“Just to encourage any new people or people who haven’t registered to make sure they do that as soon as possible, we’re looking forward to a really positive year,” he said.

There are just over a thousand employees in the district currently.

“Staffing at this time of the year is always a little bit challenging for all of the districts in the north and, in fact, across B.C. right now,” he added.

Petrucci says most of the positions are filled, but they are still short a handful of classroom teachers. The district will be using some career fairs in the hopes of filling the gaps.

“If anyone thinks they might be available to be a teacher on call or a casual EA, I would encourage them to get in touch with the school board,” he said.

In addition to municipal elections in October, there will be an election for school board trustees.

He explains that the board of trustees governs the school district as a school board.

An information session was held last Tuesday, and Petrucci says it went well.

“We went through a bit of a presentation on the school district, what it means to be a trustee, what it means to work within a board,” he said.

Following the municipal election dates, trustee candidates will be announced when nominations close on September 9th.

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Shailynn Foster

Shailynn Foster is a news reporter for energeticcity.ca. Shailynn has been writing since she was 7 years old, but only recently started her journey as a journalist. Shailynn was born and raised in Fort St. John and she watches way too much YouTube, Netflix and Disney+ during the week while playing DND on the weekends.