Highlights of Board meeting

Highlights of Board meeting

Capital Plan Approved – The Board of School District No. 83 (North Okanagan-Shuswap) gave three readings and approval to its five-year capital plan at its regular meeting on Tuesday. This year the plan came in two parts, with the Board giving approval to the total plan at its virtual meeting on Tuesday evening.

“It is good news overall,” commented Secretary Treasurer-CFO Alanna Cameron to trustees. “We received approval for the first and second school enhancement projects on our list.” She noted that the district also received some funding through the carbon neutral program, and for three buses.

SD83 was already notified that it would receive $120,000 for Falkland and $138,000 for South Canoe for a CNCP – Energy Systems upgrade at those schools. Director of Operations Travis Elwood commented these are much appreciated funds. The direct digital controls are great safety measures for schools, improve air quality, heating controls, and allow for some problems to be solved online, or more easily by staff who know in advance what’s needed to solve the problem. The District also received $1,402,000 for the final phase of the HVAC upgrades at Eagle River Secondary.

The new announcement included $801,000 for HVAC upgrades (boiler replacement) at Sullivan and $141,841 for three 76-seater school buses.


Problem Uncovered – Superintendent of Schools-CEO Peter Jory reported to the Board that the upgrade to Pleasant Valley Secondary School’s gym has hit a major snag. He said work to retrofit the gym has shown that fire damage at the school in the 70s was not finished properly and will now have to be fixed. “There may even need to be a full gym replacement.” He noted that although the extent of the problem has not been fully detailed, it is known that the gym will not be available for use, and other arrangements are being investigated and will have to be made for the fall.

After Director of Operations Travis Elwood reported to the trustees on the issue and what structural engineers had so far determined, Cameron added it is still early stages and the full scope of the required work is not yet known. She noted they have been in touch with the Ministry and have been assured “we will be sent a life raft”.

“Once we know the the cost we’ll get a more definitive direction from the Ministry. I’m confident will we get some funding help.” She said more information will be brought to the June Board meeting. “We want to minimize the impact on students.” She added they do have an existing contract that they will have to work within as well.

Superintendent’s Announcements – Jory congratulated MacKenzie Richards, a grade 12 student at Salmon Arm Secondary Sullivan Campus, who has been awarded a $40,000 post-secondary scholarship with The Cmolik Foundation in recognition of her achievements in overcoming adversity and excelling in her studies. MacKenzie plans on attending UBCO and then UBC. She wants to earn her PhD in mathematics or physics and pursue a STEM career, although she’s not exactly sure what. MacKenzie was accepted into five universities and offered three major scholarships but chose the Cmolik. MORE INFORMATION HERE

He also shared with the Board that several Sullivan students are currently running an online charity auction to help fundraise for a new CT scanner and mammography unit for Shuswap Lake General Hospital. As part of their capstone graduation project, Elias Cox, and Karver Smith – with help from friends Justice Skelhorne and Ashleigh Nadin – have joined forces with Shuswap Lake Hospital Foundation and EZ Rock’s Have a Heart Radiothon to support the charity auction, with all proceeds going to the campaign. By the way, you can find the links to the charity auction on the School District’s website.  The auction is open until May 20th. MORE INFORMATION HERE

He reported that all students in Grades 6-12 are being invited to take part in an optional survey to ensure a more safe, respectful, and equitable school-learning experience for all students. The survey was developed by the SD83 Equity Committee, which includes representatives from the local Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), North Okanagan Shuswap Teachers’ Association (NOSTA), SD83 Principals and Vice-Principals (PVP) and SD83’s senior leadership team (SLT). Information from the survey will be used to help set district goals, student improvement plans, and in-service, particularly for the Ministry’s Indigenous Education day. Also students taking part can enter to win some great prizes, including seven Samsung Galaxy Tablets. The survey is open until May 31. More information is available on school or the district websites. MORE INFORMATION HERE

COVID Update – Jory noted that there is much better news in our schools around COVID as only one school has had exclusions in the past month. “Also, last week it was announced that all of our staff are eligible for their first shot regardless of age or assignment.” He noted that it is expected in the coming days that the province will be making an announcement regarding the next phases of their vaccination plans, which will include shots for students aged 12 and up by school start up in September. “Then we will be able to go back to some of the activities that we are very much missing.”

His message to everyone who has not yet received a vaccination is to please, “register, register, register”. To register for a COVID vaccination please click on this link:  Get Vaccinated provincial registration system

Academies Update – Two hockey academies and a mountain bike academy are currently being offered in SD83, reported Jory to trustees in his update. He said at this moment the academies are all sports, however you also see fine arts, outdoors, and science and technology academies. He added the district is encouraging principals to look at academies as a viable option for their secondary schools as it is a great way to expand opportunities for SD83 students and may attract international students as well. “Academies often spark engagement and interest in school for some of our students.”

Academies are specialized programs that allow School Districts to provide enhanced levels of service and charge for those enhancements. The Ministry Regulation supporting academies provides requirements in regard to time commitment and connection to curriculum. Academies can be a way to provide additional opportunities for students to engage in learning, pursue an area of passion, and to develop higher levels of success and achievement. In recent years, School District No. 83 has supported a hockey academy at A.L. Fortune, and a mountain bike academy is now running at J.L. Jackson. Further to this, another hockey academy has been approved for PVSS for next year and will run if enrollment is sufficient. Any academy proposed would be brought to the Board for approval before it is offered.

“Hopefully this is an area where the school district can continue to grow.”

New names for PVSS Teams – The PVSS Hawks is the new name for Pleasant Valley Secondary School teams!

At the Board meeting on Tuesday, Principal Chelsea Prince revealed the new team name and school logo.

She explained that after determining the school’s current names and logo needed to be updated there was a long process of consulting with students, staff, and the Parent Advisory Committee. They wanted the new logo and name to reflect their school spirit and the local natural environment. Prince said the new logo is of a hawk with a hint of Rose Swanson, a well known landmark in Armstrong, in the background. Prince added they actually have a resident red tailed hawk that lives on the school grounds. “Hawks are fierce and majestic and there are many hawks in the Armstrong area.” The new logo maintains the school’s traditional red and black colours.

“I just love how this turned out,” commented Tennile Lachmuth.

Prince added the logo was designed by Meaghan Iversen, a graphic artist and the daughter of school secretary Patricia Iversen. She noted that the uniforms and school will be rebranded over the next little while, including letterhead and signage They are also hoping to do a mural in the school and have the logo painted in the school gym.

For many years the PVSS team names have been the Saints for the boys and Sinners for the girls. Evolving standards of equity have brought the conversation forward, and Prince has led a process for a name change and a new school logo. The process included the following:

  • Conversations with staff, students, and the PAC about the need for change
  • Request for ideas for new nicknames and logo
  • Three options generated from the suggestions received
  • Feedback process for the three options
  • Option selected by school leadership based on criteria and feedback.

Report Cards Accessibility and Emails – Trustee Quentin Bruns commented that he has been having problems accessing online report cards through the Family Portal (and other parents have contacted him). He added that with the need to frequently change the password, the portal seems less than user friendly and is going to take some time to get used to. “I’m wondering if it would be beneficial to have training sessions for parents?”

Jory commented he is disappointed the transition is not going as smoothly as possible. He said these types of changes often result in a period of frustration on the “front end” until the problems are worked through and people get used to the new practices. “As a former teacher, vice-principal, and principal, I am aware how many paper copies ended up on the floor, and on the bottom of lockers and in backpacks not making it to parents, so electronic communications are probably the way to go,” he stated. Director of Instruction, Carol-Ann Leidloff added that if parents are finding themselves frustrated to please contact the school for help or to ask for a printed copy of the report card. “If parents are really feeling frustrated schools will happily print a copy and send it home.”

Bruns added he has found staff to be very helpful. He just had frustrations with the process. Chairperson Amanda Krebs suggested that perhaps an instructional video should be made for parents as sometimes the technology help sheets aren’t the best for everyone.

Correspondence from CSRD – The Board received a letter from the Columbia Shuswap Regional District asking the Board to consider delaying the LRFP decision to allow for additional in-depth community public engagement to occur. The CSRD also invited an SD83 representative to its upcoming meeting to discuss the LRFP. It was decided that the Board Chairperson would send them an email letting them know about the upcoming meetings and invite a CSRD staff member to attend the June meeting.

Internal Administrative Calendar – The Board adopted its internal administrative calendar for 2021-22. This included that all regular Board meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month, except for the March meeting, which will be held on the second Tuesday of the month due to Spring Break. All meetings will be held via Microsoft Teams Live Event from the District Education Support Centre. If Provincial Health Orders allow, the exceptions will be the November 16 meeting will be held at Carlin Elementary Middle, the January 18th meeting will be held at A.L. Fortune, the February 15 meeting will be held at Pleasant Valley Secondary, and the April 19 meeting will be held at Eagle River. It was suggested that an in-person meeting also be held at the SD83 Operations site, which will be looked into by staff.

Cameron also suggested that, as everyone is busy and finding a time where all trustees are available for a meeting is difficult, that trustees consider holding a “regular” timeslot in their calendars for potential/additional meetings (for example – hold every Tuesday). This way everyone would know if an additional meeting is required that it would likely be on that day of the week. It would also hopefully cut down on time conflicts as trustees and staff could book other appointments or meetings on the other days of the week. It was suggested and agreed to that this be a topic at the Board’s strategy session in the summer.


Education Directions – Trustee Marianne VanBuskirk reported on three interesting presentations at the Education Directions meeting held on May 5. The first presentation was by Serena Caner and was about a school waste audit and the benefits to the School District if they take part in one. The second presentation by District Principal Jen Findlay and was on the Heggerty Phonemic Awareness Program, which is being piloted in all SD83 Kindergarten classes this fall. A professional learning session is planned for May 21 with 45 educators taking part. Findlay also gave another presentation about how schools are adapting to COVID and on creative formats for Kindergarten orientation with activities such as drive up pick up package events, outdoor events, video tours, and scheduled in person meetings. This year the district will be combining Ready, Set, Learn materials with these orientations to support Kindergarten transition for families. Trustee VanBuskirk added the next meeting is on June 2.

Finance and Facilities

Quarterly Financials to March 31 – Cameron presented the quarterly financials statements to the Board, noting this is the last statement until year end. She added there are no surprises from previous projections, which is an approximate $2.2m surplus this year. She noted the additional funds are because revenues are higher than anticipated with Distance Learning programs, additional COVID funding received from the province and federal government, as well as international student revenue, and interest revenue, being up slightly. She said offsetting that was that the district expects to be slightly overspent in benefits.


Budget Committee update – Trustee Marty Gibbons thanked all departments for their hard work and making presentations to the Budget Committee. He said the Secretary Treasurer’s presentation at the public consultation meeting was wonderful and the next step is the Committee of the Whole meeting where trustees will discuss the draft budget. That meeting is set for May 26.

Labour Relations: Bruns reported a brief Labour Relations Committee meeting was held. The topic was the teacher bargaining process for 2021-22. He explained the decision was made to do a trial period and begin local bargaining in November. “The thought is to spread out the bargaining to better support local and provincial bargaining.”

Policy Committee – Lachmuth said although there was no policies brought forward to the Board meeting, the hard working policy committee continued its work at a meeting on May 5. Discussions were held on policy development on naloxone, child care, district expense accounts, board correspondence, and health and nutrition. There were also some new policy initiations including power outage procedures, and use of service dogs.

FNEC UPDATE: VanBuskirk reported that the First Nations Education Council met on April 21 with representatives from all four bands present. Superintendent Jory provided a district update followed by District Principal of Indigenous Education, Anne Tenning, who reported on programs, Indigenous Education graduation, and the flag raising. VanBuskirk commented they are all very sorry to see Tenning move on to her new position with the provincial First Nations Steering Committee (FNESC).

“She has made huge steps here. It is tough to see her go. She will be doing good things for the province.”


Chair Krebs reported that the Board had a meeting with the consultants helping with the Superintendent and Secretary-Treasurer searches and they were very impressed with the feedback received from staff and stakeholders, particularly how well prepared everyone was and how smoothly coordinated. “Thanks to all of our staff who participated and helped with that.”

Krebs also noted that any questions which trustees were not able to get to at the end of the April Board of Education meeting about the Long Range Facilities Plan will be adressed at the special Board meeting on the LRFP on May 26 starting at 6 p.m.

Speaking of the LRFP, Bruns noted he was very disappointed with some of the responses from the public that trustees received about the meeting which was postponed last week. He added since COVID forced the change to virtual meetings, the Board has had many, many meetings with some form of public participation. “Before last week we haven’t had to call off any meetings because of technical difficulties.” He added before firing off nasty comments, perhaps some thought should go into how much work has gone on to make these things happen. “On the rare occasion when things don’t go well let’s cut everyone some slack.”



Upcoming dates

May 26 – Committee of the Whole at 1 p.m. on Board’s Work Plan for 2021-22
May 26 – Committee of the Whole at 2 p.m. on Board’s 2021-22 Budget
May 26 – Special meeting of the Board at 6 p.m. Focus is Long Range Facilities Plan

June 15 – Regular Board Meeting at 6 p.m.