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Private school enrolment spikes

As what should have been the second day of the 2014-2015 school year passes without any resolution to the ongoing teachers' strike, a new report shows B.C. private schools have seen a jump in enrolment.

The Federation of Independent School Associations of B.C. that represents non-public schools across B.C. is reporting a 4.5 per cent preliminary increase in the number of students this September, reports CTV Vancouver.

“Families want stability in education,” said Peter Froese, executive director of the Federation of Independent Schools. “They want a place to put their kids, where they can count on the fact that the schools are open. Our kids are all in school at the present time.”

Historically when the province’s public schools go on strike, private schools see a jump in enrolment. Over the past decade, private schools have seen a one to two per cent year-over-year increase in enrolment when public schools have seen falling enrolment, according to Froese.

While the strike does represent a boon for business for schools that can charge anywhere from a few thousand dollars a year in tuition to as much as $25,000 for a university prep school, Froese said the number of private school spaces is limited and a prolonged strike is not good for anyone in B.C.

“If this drags on, it will have a negative effect on public education,” he said. “From our perspective, we need a strong public education system. We want this resolved quickly so that families can get their kids into the schools.”

The FISABC represents all independent schools in British Columbia, including independent religious schools, to chartered schools, and private university prep schools.

Altogether they represent a combined enrolment of 76,000 students who are in school this week while the nearly 500,000 public school students get an extended summer holiday.

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