Synopsis of Board meeting

NOSTA Delegation: There were two presentations from the North Okanagan-Shuswap Teachers’ Association (NOSTA) at the Board of Education meeting on Wednesday. The first was from President Graham Gomme who asked the Board to hold off on making a decision on the long range facilities plan for the Salmon Arm and greater area. He suggested the board assign someone to research all the options and potential costs, which would enable the school board and community to make a more informed decision. “More time, during a better time, is needed to discuss these options.”

Potential NOSTA cuts: Vice-president Norma Jean Gomme also gave a short presentation on the district’s budget shortfall and pressures but she urged the Board not to make any further cuts to their members but to consider different solutions to budget pressures. “It is a challenging year. Everyone in the district is working hard under stressful conditions. We are all committed to the shared goal of keeping our students in school learning and developing.”

DPAC Delegation: DPAC Secretary Sandy Thon presented a series of slides on Access to An Education for Diverse Learners, a follow up to the presentation in October. In her slide presentation she talked about the rights of diverse learners.

Superintendent’s Update: Superintendent/CEO Peter Jory updated the Board on how the district is doing in the COVID environment. He said there is fatigue in the system. He added the pandemic is going to be around for quite some time and the district needs to be cautious about how it plans and spends to ensure that we are supporting students and keeping everyone safe over the long haul. He pointed out that in BC, although provincial numbers are up and there is an additional level of anxiousness, we are not seeing transmission inside school walls. “Here in Interior Health we had 18 new cases yesterday and we lost our third person to the disease. We have been able to avoid an exposure in our schools but it is probably inevitable.”He said he was wondering whether people were coming to school and work at the same rate as previous years. “Curiously it is almost exactly the same rate as last year.” With staff he said the district is at a lower replacement rate than the previous two y ears, however much of that can be attributed to the fact that people have stopped having in-person meetings, an less professional development is taking place. “The illness/sick day/medical appointment is up a bit from last year and up quite a bit from two years ago.”

Numeracy Update: District Principal (Numeracy) Val Edgell updated the Board on the work being done in the area of numeracy. She noted that the focus on numeracy came out of SD83 students consistently performing below the provincial average in numeracy on the FSA results at Grade 4 & 7, graduation numeracy assessment, Math 10 provincial exams, and district level assessments.In response to this the school district set up a district numercy team which has instituted instructional/pedagogical support and professional development. It added numeracy helping teachers who provide direct support in classrooms. The team has focused on critical thinking and problem solving.Edgell added the focus is paying off as student results are improving, even when provincial results have dropped. “We know that we are in a pickle with numeracy but we know that where we are putting our efforts and supports that these results are really improving. It takes time. We are on track and we know that if we continue our work the results will follow. These are our kids and we want the best for them. It is worth the wait and investment.”

School Growth Plans: At the meeting the Board of Education approved the school improvement plans as presented. Each year schools are expected to go through a school improvement planning process and submit a document that represents that work to the Board of Education. The aim is to improve student outcome and maintain accountability and transparency. These growth plans discussions are led by the principal but include input from stakeholders. A draft of this document is submitted to the Superintendent in June and the final in September. Additionally, and new this year, all plans are expected to have at least one “quant” goal, where the school team has selected a numerical target as part of the planning process and discussion. Each school’s plan can be found on its website.

French Immersion Update: Vice-Principal Laura Jegues updated the Board on SD83’s French Immersion program. The major goal of French Immersion is to provide the opportunity for non-francophone students to become bilingual in English and French. SD83 has both an early immersion program (where students begin in kindergarten or grade one) and a late immersion program (where students begin in grade 6). In SD83 there are currently 241 students attending French Immersion (kindergarten to grade 5 at Bastion), 74 in grade 6-7 (which started in early immersion) and another 96 in grade 6-7 late immersion, and 72 in grade 8. All the grade 6-8 French Immersion is at Shuswap Middle School. There are 149 students in French Immersion at Jackson and 126 at Sullivan. READ MORE HERE

Transportation Committee: Trustee Quentin Bruns suggested that the Board of Education re-institute its transportation committee. “I’ve had a few transportation related issues come up this year in my area and when I was formerly a trustee we had a transportation committee which met monthly to head off or deal with these issues right away. Secretary-Treasurer Alanna Cameron did some digging and found the last time the committee was active was in 2015. “I think it is a great idea. It can not only look and and respond to parent concern and requests but route changes, review current policies and regulations, have input on the equitability field trips and travel,” she said. The board passed a recommendation that the secretary-treasurer prepare a draft terms of reference for a transportation committee and bring it back to the December meeting.

Remote Learning: Bruns also asked if it were possible to offer opportunities for students in the smaller high schools to join a course virtually at one of the larger high schools. “For instance could three or four students at A.L. Fortune take a course being offered at Sullivan or PVSS?” Superintendent Jory offered some insight saying he has had experience in two different districts trying to make this work. He added bus schedules and timetabling needs to be aligned for this to happen. “However, our ability to use technology has come a long way, especially this past year, and I’d be happy to look into this.”

Trustee Remuneration: After some discussion, the Board passed a motion to follow its policy and approve an increase to trustee remuneration. Board policy ties the annual trustee remuneration increase to the consumer price index. For 2019 this was 2.2 per cent.

Teams Phones: Bruns also asked about the District’s move to Teams phones, which work through the internet. Jory explained that last year the district discovered many of the phone systems were reaching end of life. To replace two of the systems (Sullivan and PVSS) was around $100,000 each and total replacement cost in the district was over seven figures, commented Jory. It was decided to move to the Teams phone format, which uses VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) and “speaks” to telephones. “We actually dial from our laptops and it works just like a telephone. Phone calls are rerouted to our laptop or cell phones. ” Jory added there have been challenges and the district is working through those concerns.

Quarterly Financial to September 30th: Cameron updated the trustees on the district’s quarterly financial reports which indicate forecasted results compared with actual budget. She pointed out that the Board’s fiscal year begins July 1st and the Ministry allocates money to the district at the level which it is spent (so the payments to districts in the summer are lower than Sept-June). She pointed out that the spending is right at the levels where they budgeted, however, the district now knows it is not going to be receiving that much funding so spending is going to have to decrease.

Statement of Financial Information (SOFI) Report: The Board received the Statement of Financial Information (SOFI) Report for School District No. 83 for the year ending June 30, 2020. This report, which is mandated, lists all payments made to all trustees and any employees with remuneration of over $75,000, total payments made to suppliers in excess of $25,000, and the independent auditors’ report of the financial statements. It can be viewed by clicking on the link below and, once signed, will be posted on the SD83 website under Board of Education/Financial Reports.

AED Update: Cameron updated the trustees on the Board’s three year plan to implement AEDs in all schools and operational facilities in the school district. External Defibrillators (AED’s) are portable devices that deliver an electric shock through the chest to the heart to treat sudden cardiovascular arrest (SCA) caused when the heart’s electric impulses become abnormal and life threatening. By August 2019 there were 8 installed. This past year an additional 12 have been purchased and are being installed. These were made possible by trustees directing any surplus trustee professional development funds to the purchase of AEDs in schools plus the donation of an AED to Grindrod Elementary by North Okanagan Regional District.

Amended Annual Budget Update: Cameron updated the trustees on the Board’s amended annual budget. She commented she combed through the budget and reduced everywhere possible without starting to reduce service levels. The budget now sits at a shortfall of just over $550,000. She said they are also looking at changing small things to save money, such as changing the hand sanitizer to foam from spray, which could also possibly help save some funds. “Essentially we have until February to get our budget balanced. We are trying to find ways to make the changes, there are many unknowns and we are learning about dealing with COVID every day.”

Recording/Livestreaming of Board Meetings Update: At the Board’s October 9, 2020Committee of the Whole meeting, staff were asked to prepare a summary of considerations, including possible advantages and/or disadvantages, related to recording and/or livestreaming Board meetings. Secretary-Treasurer Cameron outlined some of the information which has been put together, including that it supported viewer convenience and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. On the other hand there are concerns about privacy issues that arise from recording meetings and posting them online. Trustees decided to further discuss this at a Committee of the Whole meeting as well as have the policy committee continue to work on it.

Budget Structure/Process Review: Cameron outlined the proposed 2021-22 preliminary budget timeline and process. She reported the new timeline only makes a few small changes but will have a huge effect. “What we are trying to do is avoid the pitfall of the last couple of years where we end up disappointing everyone as we are starting in a place that is realistic,” she said. The proposed timeline will come to the Board in December.


Remembrance Day – Superintendent Peter Jory commented schools found many memorable ways to honour and recognize Remembrance Day this year. Just a few of the them included painting poppies on rocks and placing them at the cenotaph in their community to handmaking wreaths to present. As mentioned at last month’s Board meeting PVSS student Taliah Brown was videoed playing the Last Post and this was shared with our schools. Hillcrest Elementary also did a musical tribute. Tyra Menzies Grade 4/5 Class, working with music teacher Brook Roberts, performed Nobody Rules You, which was part of that school’s virtual Remembrance Day ceremony.
Poster available: Jory announced that SOGI/Sexual Health Support Teacher, Amy Witt, is excited to launch her poster project fundraiser which is trying to ensure that marginalized students and families feel welcome in our schools and beyond. Amy was inspired by a community fundraising project in Nelson this summer and hopes that schools and other workplaces will purchase a poster for display. Posters or stickers are available for $5 and orders can be placed by email: All funds raised will support SOGI initiatives in School District No. 83.
New Trails – Jory also noted a labyrinth of ten unique trail loops and connecters have been developed at Ranchero Elementary and have been dubbed the Ranchero “Wild” Nature Trails. Since September, with shovels and rakes in hand, Joel Mueller and Duane Kroeker’s classes have expanded on the old, original trail at the school and developed it into the new network, which is being well-used and loved by students, staff and community. The new trails cover over 1.4 km and will be maintained by the students in the Ranchero Trailblazer Club.
Food Drive – The Carlin Leadership Team organized and just completed a food drive to collect and donate to the Sorrento Food Bank. Principal Shane Corston reports all of the cohort specific boxes were overflowing with donations and they are very thankful to the contributing families and Carlin Spirit!
BCSTA Branch Meeting – Trustee Marianne VanBuskirk reported on the fall meeting of the BC School Trustees’ Association Thompson-Okanagan Branch. saying there was good sharing and networking with other trustees in the region. She noted there was an excellent session with guest speaker Anona Kampe, who shared the traditional Indigenous story of The Four Food Chiefs. “The morale was all voices matter. An important message for children, families, support staff, administrators, district staff, educators and trustees alike,” she commented in her report.
BCSTA General Meeting – Trustee Tennile Lachmuth reported that all of the motions which the Board had discussed were carried, many unanimously, at the BCSTA general meeting.
Committee Reports: Committee Chair Marianne VanBuskirk reported on the Ed Directions Committee talking about how each meeting begins with participants talking about students first. She said committee members share about what students are learning and doing. “It’s worth coming to the meetings just to hear these,” she said. Board Chair Amanda Krebs updated the Board about a recent BCSTA chair meeting while Vice Chairperson Tennile Lachmuth reported on the BCSTA annual general meeting and the most recent BCPSEA meeting. Lachmuth also noted that at the last policy committee meeting work continued on revising the Board’s Policy Manual.

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