February Board Synopsis

The draft district calendar for the 2021-22 school year, the Board’s amended 2020-21 budget, and a hockey academy at Pleasant Valley Secondary were just some of the items receiving approval at the School District No. 83 (North Okanagan-Shuswap) Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 16.

District Achievement Results Up
Graduation rates continue to climb in School District No. 83 (North Okanagan-Shuswap), including a very positive result for SD83’s Indigenous students.

Superintendent Peter Jory reported to the School District No. 83 (North Okanagan- Shuswap) Board of Education at its meeting on Tuesday that there was really good news on the achievement front with the release of the Ministry of Education’s data on six-year graduation rates.
“We made a step forward with our district six-year grad rates. I’m pleased to report we have again closed the gap between ourselves and the rest of province in the all-resident students category.” Jory added the provincial six-year grad rate moved to 90 percent. SD83 once again showed steady improvement and went from 84 percent to 88 percent, just two percent behind the provincial average at this time.

“I’m especially pleased to report that we made another significant gain in our Indigenous student category, as we are now sitting at 14 percent above the rest of the province.” SD83 had a nice gain last year (from 67 to 76 percent) and another nice gain this year (from 76 to 85 percent). The provincial average is at 71.

“This is a major step towards equity of outcome which in my opinion is the core purpose of Truth and Reconciliation. The more students that graduate, the more students that will achieve meaningful grad, and will then be ready for post-secondary and the workforce.” He added the work is not over. “We aren’t done yet, but we are very, very pleased to report on this progress.”

Jory added that in the data for all resident students including those with diverse needs, SD83 had fallen behind the provincial average in previous years, but last year moved slightly above the provincial average and stayed that way again this year. “Full credit to everyone in the system for additional focus and efforts over the past three years as we’ve utilized new strategies to support our most vulnerable learners.”

Jory particularly wanted to recognize the work done by teachers and certified education assistants (CEAs) during the last three months of the 2019-20 school year. “The work (to improve graduation rates) has been going on for some time, of course. For the last three years we’ve been toiling away at this. In the last three months of last year we did especially good work supporting students online and during the hybrid model. Our teachers and CEAs did a great job reaching out to students and making sure they had all the credits they needed moving towards graduation.”

Draft District Calendar 2021-22
The Board of Education approved a draft calendar for the upcoming school year. This draft will now be circulated for public input and the Board will be considering a motion for approval in March. The draft shows the school year beginning on Tuesday, September 7 with the final day of school for students on Thursday, June 23.

COVID Update
“We essentially had a heck of a January in Salmon Arm. There was a significant amount of COVID in the community and we were one of the provincial hot spots,” reported Jory to trustees. He added the district experienced a COVID cluster at South Canoe and closed the school and went to online learning for two weeks.

He reported there were 15 possible exposures at SD83 schools over six weeks with more than a dozen class exclusions. Jory added that things have slowed down and that SD83 went ten straight days before there was a possible exposure at Armstrong Elementary School and then another five more days before the most recent possible exposure and class exclusion at South Broadview.Jory stated that recent focus has been on implementing the new provincial health and safety guidelines. There have been a lot of changes to consider and implement. “I think it is going as well as we can expect.”

He added there are still some tensions to work through but those conversations are taking place. Jory added that all in all he thinks everyone is looking forward to Spring Break and warmer weather so more time can be spent outside. Of course everyone is looking forward to the vaccination cycle working its way through and to when it is safe to return to normal business practice, hopefully by September.

2020-21 Amended Annual Budget
After three readings, the Board approved its amended annual 2020-21 budget in the amount of $93,124,598. This was $1,807,121 less in funding than the anticipated budget from last Spring. Secretary-Treasurer Alanna Cameron went through the complete amended budget explaining the differences between the projected budget and the amended budget. Cameron showed where there were additional costs and budget shortfalls and she outlined how the budget was balanced by using $609,984 in contingency funds and by making $1,202,137 in reductions.


NOSTA Delegation on Long Range Facilities Plan
North Okanagan-Shuswap Teachers’ Association (NOSTA) President Graham Gomme reported to the Board that a NOSTA committee looked at the district’s long-range facilities plan and developed some recommendations for their members’ consideration and these recommendations and the reasons behind them were presented to the Board for its consideration. The committee recommended for the Northwest Zone that North Shuswap and Sorrento be K-6 schools with Carlin Elementary a K-9 school. Or, alternatively, that North Shuswap and Carlin be expanded to K-9 schools with Sorrento a K-6 school. In the Salmon Arm Zone they recommended changing Salmon Arm Urban to K-6, two middle schools (7-9) and one secondary (10-12).

Superintendent’s Announcements
In his announcements Jory noted that Karly Irmen, a Grade 12 student at Sullivan, recently organized a food and clothing drive to benefit the Salvation Army. With the help of students and staff at Jackson, she collected 295 pounds of food and 17 large garbage bags of clothing to help those in need. Way to go Karly!”Last month I mentioned the upcoming Shuswap Youth Launch, a locally organized virtual leadership event originally planned for last April but now totally revamped and going online and happening on Feb. 25.

Since that time others have now heard about this leadership event and have asked to join in. The Cowichan Valley Youth Action team reached out and asked if students from their high schools could take part, as did the athletics department from Olds College. Congratulations to our local students and committee that have organized this event and best wishes for a very successful virtual student leadership conference on the 25th.”

“One of our students was recognized for earning a World Record and is actually going to be in Guinness for stacking the most Jenga blocks on one vertical block. Shuswap Middle School student Auldin Maxwell stacked 693 blocks on just one block! He says he might have been able to balance even more but he ran out of Jenga blocks.”

Also, Cody Hutchison, a Grade 9 student at Eagle River Secondary, challenged other students in his school to take part in a two-week detox – from their cell phone! To take part in the challenge, students agreed to have their cell phones placed in the school office during the day from Feb. 1 – 11. The phones had to remain in the office, turned off (omit comma) throughout the day and collected at the end. Jory shared a five-minute video clip of ERS Principal Mark Marino and Cody talking about how the detox went. “I’ve been waiting for this issue to be something of interest to student leadership,” commented Jory. “I’m thrilled this has happened, and I think the results are kind of what I expected and good learning for Cody. It’s all about the logistics, isn’t it?”

Trades & Careers Update
District Principal Reid Findlay provided an update to the Board on four main strands of the career program (ITA Youth Discover the Trades, Youth Explore, Youth Train and Youth Work) and provided an update on what is taking place, how things have adapted due to COVID and the challenges being faced. He mentioned one of the challenges is that some of the students who access these courses/programs are hands-on learners and having to access these virtual programs is a problem.Findlay also touched on My BluePrint, a software program which among other tools, allows students to visually plan towards graduation requirements and determine their eligibility for post-secondary programs in Canada. He added that as part of career planning each student in SD83 has access to this resource.

PVSS Hockey Academy
The Board gave approval in principle for a Hockey Academy at Pleasant Valley Secondary School. In introducing the motion, Jory noted that many in School District No. 83 share a passion for hockey, and it is well-known that student-athletes have left the area to join competitive teams as well as to attend academies focused on this sport. He noted it is the district’s intention to meet the needs and interests of local students with a high-quality program that is open to all students and offered at a competitive price. The intended provider, RPM Hockey, (insert 2 commas) has established a number of academy programs across the province and has developed an excellent reputation in regard to both quality and value, as well as for being supportive of the school environment. Jory noted that he worked with RPM in previous school districts and has found their academies to be excellent. PVSS Principal Chelsea Prince walked the Board through what the program would look like. She noted that a parent meeting to gauge interest has already resulted with 21 students indicating interest out of a possible 30 seats in the program. “We’re really excited about it.”

Number of Trustees
Board Chair Amanda Krebs brought to the Board’s attention that recently she was made aware that there was always the expectation that when the Official Trustee picked the number of trustees for SD83 it came with the expectation that this would be re-assessed before the next election. She asked that trustees start thinking about this and it will be brought back to the next Board meeting for discussion.

Fall Enrolment – Portables
Jory raised awareness with trustees that there is a possibility that SD83 will need portables if enrolment trends match Long-Range Facility Planning predictions. He noted enrolment increases were interrupted this September due to the pandemic, but this change will likely only be temporary. He added he was just bringing this up at this time for information, and that a motion will be coming forward to the March meeting.

Student Voice
Jory reported to the Board on a discussion at the Education Directions Committee around student voice. “There’s a recognition that having student input whenever we can to help guide our decision-making processes at the school district is incredibly important and so I was soliciting some information from the Ed Directions committee around some practices which seem to have been successful in the school district.” He said conversation included focus groups, and possibly accessing leadership classes, political science classes and Youth Council to also help get ideas and feedback. “My favourite was to call teacher Will Fazan as he’s been running these programs for years and is good at it.”

Athletic Leadership 11/12
The Board approved an Athletic Leadership 11/12 Board/Authority Approved Course for Pleasant Valley Secondary School. The Athletic Leadership 11 and 12 are intended to develop athletic leadership skills for students. This course includes a combination of classwork to learn leadership and planning skills and practical, hands-on applications of those skills. Students will develop and apply skills such as leadership, teamwork, goal setting, event planning, activity assessment and reflection through the development of curricular events and lesson plans.

Quarterly Financials to December 31
Secretary-Treasurer Alanna Cameron provided the Board with a quarterly financial report. School districts must provide the Board of Education (or committee of the board) with, at minimum, quarterly financial reports which indicate forecasted results compared with actual budget, and offer a discussion and analysis, as necessary, to fully communicate financial performance and key risks. Cameron noted several areas where the district had a shortfall, which she said were addressed in the amended annual budget.

2021–22 Budget Guiding Principles
The Board adopted the Budget Guiding Principles for the Budget Committee for 2021-22.

Education Directions Committee
Trustee Marianne VanBuskirk reported that the committee had a very interesting meeting on February 3. Topics discussed included a presentation by District Principal Jennifer Findlay on childcare in schools, including information that personal education numbers are now assigned at birth in B.C, and that SD83 will be doing a needs assessment for before and after school child care. On another topic, Findlay updated the committee on the new MyEd report card structure. Also presenting at the meeting was teacher Kelly Gontar of Highland Park who gave the committee a wealth of information on the Literacy Intervention Program, summarized VanBuskirk.

Labour Relations
Trustee Quentin Bruns reported the Labour Relations Committee met on Feb. 9 and spent some of the meeting discussing in detail five HR guidelines to see if they needed to be changed/updated.

Partner Group Liaison
Trustee Marty Gibbons reported at the recent Partner Group meeting there was an update and discussion on the budget and an update on COVID exposures in the district.

Policy Committee
Trustee Tennile Lachmuth reported that at its recent meeting the Policy Committee had some really great policy discussion around Naloxone, changing the employee expenses regulation to a policy, and developing a Climate Action policy for the Environmental ad hoc working group.

Committee of the Whole
The next committee of the whole meeting is on Feb. 24 at 3 p.m. This meeting will be recorded and available for view on the website.

Bruns reported on the BCPSEA annual general meeting, which was held online this year. “It was a very different experience. It was nice not to have to drive to Vancouver but unfortunate to miss the interaction with other trustees.”

Trustee VanBuskirk reported the next meeting will be on February 17 from 9 – noon.

Board Chair Amanda Krebs reported in a recent B.C.-wide meeting of Board Chairs she asked, as raised by the Board last meeting, if Boards can expand on the Provincial Health Order to require elementary school students to wear masks. She noted that the answer was the Ministry of Education will not approve Board directions that contradict the PHO.
Trustee Marianne VanBuskirk commented that she wanted to mention the plethora of wellness opportunities happening around the district, including the Move and Groove Challenge. “These are all helping just not for physical fitness but also mental well-being of our staff, students and families.” She also expressed her appreciation to SD83 staff, students and families for being “vigilant” in responding to the COVID cases in the area and who are following the PHO’s layers of protection advice. “What a show of team effort. Thank you to everyone who has partaken in that – we’ve already seen a difference.”


Feb. 24 – Committee of the Whole meeting at 3 p.m.
March 9 – Board of Education Meeting at 6 p.m. via Teams
March 12 – Last Day before Spring Break
March 15-26 – Spring Break
March 29 – Schools re-open