EDITORIAL: A year of calm in the classroom?

With the bitterness that ensued during teacher negotiations last year, let's hope this year runs smoothly.

After a 2011-2012 school year fraught with tension and concern, the coming one will be a blessing to many.

Thousands of Surrey and Delta students will be heading back to school this week, some to new classrooms, some to schools with new principals and new teachers.

Many in Surrey, unfortunately, will also spend a lot of time in a portable classroom.

The number of new students entering Surrey public schools this week is nearly 630 – a number that will rise as the year proceeds. While a school addition or two will be ready for students this year, no new schools are opening. Years of capital funding delays – until last year Surrey hadn’t received money for new school space since 2005 – will leave thousands of kids and teens learning in portables again this year.

And on top of Surrey’s unique concerns, the provincewide political unrest of last year lingers. The current public school teachers’ collective agreement is due to expire in less than a year, and some old issues will inevitably continue to plague the education system.

The BC Teachers’ Federation said it only signed the deal under the threat of legislation and there is a concern some teachers will be returning to the classroom bitter and demoralized. It’s possible some will even continue to refrain from doing volunteer duties while others may simply jump back into school activities with enthusiasm.

Let’s hope a year of relative calm will provide new optimism and a sense of purpose as the school year begins — for teachers as well as students.

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