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MARCH 2018 | ISSUE 224
Membership in FISA continues to grow. As of January 2018, FISA had an overall increase of 2.7% from the previous year, marking the highest membership level ever experienced over FISA’s 52-year history with 82,166 students (HC) receiving their education in member schools. FISA represents 94% of the overall independent school student enrolment in British Columbia.

The Board of Directors is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Shawn Chisholm as the Executive Director of FISA, commencing July 1, 2018. Mr. Chisholm’s strong commitment in and passion for choice in education is evident in his career path, having served in teaching and administrative positions in BC’s independent schools. Most recently, Mr. Chisholm has served as the Principal of St. Ann’s Academy in Kamloops. St. Ann’s is a K-12 Catholic school serving 419 students and bears the distinction of being the oldest continuously operating independent school in BC, having opened its doors in 1880. Mr. Chisholm knows FISA well, having served on the FISA board for several years. Mr. Chisholm has participated on BC Ministry of Education school inspection teams both in BC and offshore. He was appointed by the Minister of Education to sit on the Teacher Regulation Branch Independent School Teaching Certificate Standards Committee. Mr. Chisholm also served on the Thompson River University Faculty of Education Advisory Committee. Mr. Chisholm has obtained a Bachelor of Business Administration, with a concentration in finance, from SFU, along with a BEd and MEd in Administration and School Leadership from UBC. Mr. Chisholm’s passionate commitment to independent schools, strong background in finance, effective experience in change management, admirable work ethic and calm demeanor made him an excellent candidate as FISA’s next executive director. Mr. Chisholm is married and the father of two adult children. The FISA Board extends congratulations to Mr. Shawn Chisholm on this appointment.


FISA wishes Dr. Peter Froese all the best as he bids adieu to BC to take an international leadership position. Please read the following letter from Peter for more information.

Dear friends and colleagues,

Many of you will be surprised to learn that I informed the FISA Board of Directors in November 2017 of my intention to retire in December 2018. My wife and I wanted to spend more time with our grandchildren who are now two and four years of age. A bit of travel and more time at the cabin were also beckoning. Therefore, the FISA Board of Directors struck a search committee and I am pleased to throw my support behind Shawn Chisholm, the next executive director of FISA BC, who will begin his work on July 1, 2018. It was my intention to work with Shawn for several months, but those plans have changed because of recent circumstances.

While I did not pursue further employment, there were numerous offers that were presented to me, one of which I have accepted. I guess retirement was not ready for me yet! I have accepted a two-year appointment as Superintendent of Maple Leaf Educational Systems in China. There are 11 BC certified offshore schools operated by Maple Leaf Educational Systems with a total enrolment of 8,000 students pursuing a BC Dogwood Diploma. The position begins on August 15th, requiring me to leave FISA on August 1, 2018, which is earlier than planned.

It has been my joy and privilege to advocate on behalf of independent schools in BC during the past eight years. FISA has a great relationship with government and our educational partners, and I expect that these positive relationships will continue under Shawn’s leadership. Thank-you for the support you have given to me and continue to give. Your commitment to educational excellence is very much appreciated by so many families in British Columbia who value the importance of choice in education.

With gratitude,

Peter Froese
Executive Director

In order to bring the FISA constitution and bylaws into compliance with the new Societies Act, the Board asked a committee to draft a new document that complies with the Act.  This draft document has now been circulated to the five associations of FISA for their review and input, after which the committee will develop a revised draft document reflective of the input from all FISA associations.  The current draft constitution and bylaws contains a number of proposed changes:
  1. FISA will become a member funded society under the Societies Act.
  2. The five associations will each continue to be a member of FISA, with the schools continuing to be educational entities that are affiliated with an association of FISA, and thus a participant in the work of FISA.
  3. Each of the five associations will determine how a school entity becomes a member of the association.
  4. Each of the five associations will themselves be a Society in BC.
  5. A quorum will include one representative from each of the member FISA associations.
  6. Due to the diversity of the Association Member Group (AMG), the draft bylaws enable all six directors to have an active voice on the Board.
  7. Committees of FISA continue to have a representative from each of the five associations of FISA.
  8. Although most decisions on the Board are made by consensus, a dispute resolution process has been added to the bylaws, should it be required.
Associations are expected to complete their review of the draft constitution and bylaws by April 25, 2018, so that the committee can bring an amended document to the Board for the May board meeting.
FISA is appreciative of the continued support from the government for independent schools in BC.  The overall budget for K-12 education increased from $6.05 B to $6.3 B for 2018-19, an increase of 4.1%. Independent school funding increased from $398.5 M to $426 M, an increase of $27.5 M or 7%.  Public school funding increased by $229.3 M.
Independent schools represent 13% of the overall K-12 enrolment in BC and the 2018-19 allocation of $426 M represents 6.7% of the $6.3 B Ministry of Education budget.
MSP premiums will be eliminated on January 1, 2020 for an annual savings for families of $1800.  A new employer health tax will be enacted for schools and businesses with a payroll of more than $1.5 M, where employers will pay 1.95% tax on their total annual payroll. Schools and businesses with an annual payroll of less that $500,000 will not pay any employer health tax.
School authorities should be aware that the employer health tax will begin in 2019 while 50% MSP premiums are still in effect.  This will represent an added cost to most schools for which authorities should budget for in advance.

After a process of consultation, visitation and recommendation, the FISA Directors voted at the February 2018 Board Meeting to accept as members the following schools as part of the AMG association.

  • Maple Leaf School KPU | Richmond
  • Maple Hill School | Richmond
  • Canada Royal Arts High School | Richmond

The TRB confirmed there are 312 valid LOPs as of January 2018 within the independent system. A large number of independent school authorities have had to employ between 1 and 3 teachers under an LOP with a smaller number of schools using LOPs extensively to meet their staffing needs. This is a is a significant concern for FISA as the LOPs are only valid until June 30, 2018. FISA is asking independent school authorities to make every effort to replace or certify teachers who are currently teaching under an LOP by September 2018. School authorities that will require the use of LOPs in the 2018-2019 school year will need to demonstrate to the Teacher Regulation Branch that they have advertised for the position and are unable to hire a certified teacher.


School authorities are reminded that LOPs are intended as temporary measures to be used in extenuating circumstances. It is important to realize that any teacher employed under an LOP is not accountable to the TRB for conduct and competency guidelines. Any LOP teacher whose behaviour is in violation of the Professional Standards, cannot be investigated by the TRB because they are not a certified teacher, and if dismissed by the authority, can seek teaching employment elsewhere with no blemish on their employment record. In addition, FISA is concerned that the quality of education remains high in all independent schools. Authorities with a large number of uncertified teachers place educational quality at risk. While LOPs are a crucial aspect of the teacher regulation process in BC, authorities should use them judiciously. 

Please click any date to register:

Plans are underway for the 3rd annual Provincial Outreach professional learning series. This year’s focus will be on the implementation of the new graduation program. Teachers and administrators of grades 8-12 are encouraged to attend. FISA express sincere thanks to the Ministry of Education for supporting curriculum implementation in independent schools. Special thanks to the member schools who have graciously agreed to serve as hosts. More information forthcoming once logistics are finalized. 

Please visit the FISA website HERE for a schedule of upcoming ERASE Bullying training sessions.

Representatives from independent schools served as panelists to help set the standards for FSA marking: delineating the criteria for differentiating between “Emerging”, “On-Track”, and “Extending” levels of performance. FISA thanks the Ministry of Education for including independent schools in this important work. FISA also thanks the individual panelists for participating and their schools authorities/organizations for allowing them to serve in this capacity.

  • Sherry Drader - Abbotsford Christian School
  • Cathy Sulmona - St. Francis of Assisi School
  • Darren Spyksma - SCSBC Office
  • Jessie Claudio - Vancouver Talmud Torah
  • Karen Russell - Cornerstone Christian Academy
  • Kent Dykstra - Credo Christian High School
  • Maddy Pedrette - St. Joseph School Kelowna
  • Richard DeMerchant - St. Michaels University School

The Ministry is seeking Expressions of Interest from senior educators and leaders within the BC education sector who are interested in participating in a secondment to support student success. Name of individuals who submit an Expression of Interest will be put into a pool from which the Ministry will access future secondment opportunities. Independent school educators are encouraged to apply. Closing date is April 6, 2018.

More information HERE
In March 2018, the Ministry of Education released an updated graduation program guide.

What has Changed:
  1. The curriculum has been redesigned to be more learner-focused and flexible, with a focus on core competencies, big ideas and learning standards; Indigenous culture and perspectives have been integrated into all curriculum.
  2. New Course Structures
  1.  8-credits of Career Education with flexible delivery options and a Capstone Project.
  2.  Courses designed to be accessible to all students; Communications 11 and 12  discontinued.
  3.  Health Education has been combined with Physical Education.
  1. Two new provincial graduation assessments – Literacy Assessment and Numeracy Assessment.
  2. BAA Guidelines updated to align with the redesigned curriculum.
 What Remains the Same:
  1. High standards still placed on core skills (reading, writing, math).
  2. At least 80 credits required to graduate (52 required credits and 28 elective credits) representing a breadth of subject areas.
  3. No changes to Independent Directed Studies, External Credentials, Course Challenges, Dual Credit courses, Equivalency credits or scholarships.
 Student Progress Reporting:
  1. No changes to the Grades 10-12 reporting policy for 2018/19 or 2019/20.
  2. Letter grades and percentages continue to appear on formal report cards and transcripts for all courses.
  3. New Graduation Numeracy and Literacy Assessments evaluated with a 4-point provincial proficiency scale.

More information HERE
Schools with international students should review and implement the new BC K-12 International Student Homestay Guidelines released by the Ministry of Education.

More information HERE

In addition to the ArtStarts (AIE) grants administered through FISA intended to support in-school performances, independent schools can also apply for ArtStarts (AIC) small-scale project grants of up to $3,500 and large-scale project grants of up to $10,000.

More (AIC) information HERE

Congratulations to the following independent schools who received small- or large-scale project grants in the 2017/2018 school year:

  • Artemis Place Secondary School, Victoria: Through my lens
  • Kenneth Gordon Maplewood School, North Vancouver: The Puppet Musical Project
  • Heritage Christian School, Kelowna: Musical Theatre Actor’s Workshop 2018
  • Khalsa School, Surrey: Focus on First Peoples (ARTCI)
  • St Joseph's Catholic School, Victoria: Unexpected Heroes – The Hero/Heroine in YOU
  • St. Margaret’s School, Victoria: Puppetry Sparks Creativity at STEM School
  • Queen Margaret’s School, Duncan: Chinese Heritage Mural
Each spring, FISA administers the Dogwood District/Authority Awards (DDAA) on behalf of the Ministry of Education for students enrolled in independent schools. For the 2016/2017 school year, 413 graduates received awards of $1250 each totaling over $500,000.


Specific applications, due dates, and adjudication processes apply to each of the following geographic regions: Metro Vancouver area, Vancouver Island, Fraser Valley.

VANCOUVER (North & West Vancouver, Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, Delta, Richmond)

Completed applications must be received before 4:00 pm, Friday, April 6, 2018

Note: Applicants must personally present evidence of superior achievement for judging on the evening of Thursday, April 26, 2018.

VANCOUVER ISLAND (Vancouver Island, Gulf Islands, Burnaby, Sunshine Coast)

Completed applications must be received before 4:00 pm, Monday, April 9, 2018

Note: Applicants must personally present evidence of superior achievement for judging on the evening of Thursday, April 19, 2018.

FRASER VALLEY (Coquitlam & Port Coquitlam, Interior BC, Northern BC)

Completed applications must be received before 4:00 pm, Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Note: Due to the large geographical area included in the Fraser Valley region, there are no in-person presentations. Applicants are judged on the evidence included in the application package.


The DDAA program for independent schools is managed by a host of dedicated volunteers including DDAA coordinators Anita Irani from York House School, John Slofstra from Pacific Christian School, and Ron de Haan from Credo Christian High School, the DDAA committee members, and scores of volunteers who assist in adjudication. FISA thanks everyone involved in the process, including the Ministry of Education for ongoing sponsorship of these awards. 


FISA is pleased that Coast Capital Savings has designated 3Youth Get It” Awards  each in the amount of $3,500 for students graduating from independent schools located in Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley, mid and southern Vancouver Island, and Kelowna. These awards are intended to support youth who have persevered despite facing adversity. 

Application packages have been mailed to independent schools within the qualifying regions and are also available HERE:

Applications are due in the FISA office by 4:00 pm, April 10, 2018.

Applications may be emailed to or mailed to 4885 Saint John Paul II Way, Vancouver, BC V5Z 0G3

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