Capacity challenges and long term facilities report

SD83 will be undertaking a long range facilities review decided the School District No. 83 (North Okanagan-Shuswap) Board of Education at its meeting at Pleasant Valley Secondary in Armstrong on Tuesday.

After a presentation earlier in the evening by Assistant Superintendent Carl Cooper on capacity challenges and outdated capacity information, as well as a report later in the evening by Secretary-Treasurer Alanna Cameron on the need for an accurate Long Range Facilities Plan, the Board of Education passed a motion to set aside funds to do a long range facilities plan.

“This ties right in with Carl’s presentation and also ties in with risk management,” commented Board Chair Marianne VanBuskirk after Cameron’s report. “It is imperative to have a current and comprehensive long range facilities plan.”

The Long Range Facilities Plan (LRFP) is a mechanism for school districts to effectively demonstrate that proper facility planning is taking place in support of the district’s educational plan over a 10-year window and are required to be developed, maintained and made available upon the Ministry’s request.

Cameron explained it needs to be prepared using district financial resources and the LRFP is valid until there is a change. They are not required to be revised or re-submitted annually.

Alanna Cameron

“The LRFP is expected to be developed in accordance with all Regulations, Orders-In-Council, School Act Ministerial Orders as well as Ministry Policies, Instructions and Guidelines provided by the Ministry.”

After Cameron’s presentation, the Board passed a motion setting aside up to $35,000 for the project.

Earlier in the evening Cooper had presented information around capacity challenges at several district schools, which will be exacerbated by projected enrolment growth.

Carl Cooper

He noted there are already space challenges at Shuswap Middle and Armstrong Elementary. In the near future there will be increasing pressures at Shuswap Middle, Jackson Secondary, South Canoe Elementary, and potentially at Carlin.

Connected to this challenge is that current information on school capacities are outdated. Some are based on former class size numbers, some buildings have been altered since the capacities have been assigned, and in some cases, portables have been removed. The need to have accurate capacity information to assist the Board in making a decision is important.

Giving background, Cooper noted two factors have significantly impacted school capacity. First, the restoration of the teacher contract language has led to reduced class sizes and the addition of 23 classrooms in Kindergarten to Grade 8. There have been corresponding increases in secondary with the staffing ratio dropping from 26.1 to 22.9, again creating the need for more classroom space.

Furthermore, he pointed out, enrolment has increased by 470 students over the past five years and is anticipated to grow by another 580 students through the next five years.

The district has responded to these factors in the Enderby area with a reconfiguration, an additional bus route, and the installation of a portable. As well, the South Canoe Outdoor Learning Program was also opened, in part, to relieve space challenges in the Salmon Arm area.

Cooper presented some graphs with information on past, current and projected enrolments at sites that have or are projected to have space challenges.

Graphs available here:

9A.1-Enrolment-Graphs