The first meeting of the new school year for the Board of Education of School District No. 83 (North Okanagan-Shuswap) was held on Tuesday evening. The meeting was a “hybrid” with trustees and staff in-person at the District Education Support Centre (DESC) and interested participants joining online via livestream.
It was also the first regular public board meeting for new senior leadership members Superintendent of Schools Donna Kriger and Secretary Treasurer Dale Culler, who were welcomed by Board Chair Amanda Krebs.
During her report to the Board, Kriger expressed her appreciation to the Board for entrusting her to lead SD83. “Since arriving six weeks ago, I’ve had numerous opportunities to connect with many of the employee groups across the district. In addition to meeting many SD83 employees, I’ve also had the privilege of beginning my journey of learning alongside stakeholder groups. The community of Salmon Arm has been very gracious to me, and I look forward to establishing connections and relationships in all the communities within our school district.”
“It has become very apparent to me that I join an outstanding and dedicated group of people at our district office. They are a wonderful compliment to the strong team of people who are in schools supporting kids in various ways. As a united team, we will put students at the centre of our work and decision making and I look forward to creating a narrative for SD83 that includes values like transparency, belonging, respect, and accountability.”
“As I share some celebrations surrounding our district and particularly those of our students, I want to also acknowledge the resilience of the people within this district. I arrived here during the height of the wildfires. Given the challenges of the previous year, this was yet additional trauma and hardship that communities and families should not have had to endure. What I witnessed were neighbours reaching out to take others into their homes, strangers helping to move and board livestock, firefighters risking their lives, people prepared to leave everything they owned – in a moments notice, and simply put all the goodness we would hope to see in humankind.” This was confirmation that I’ve come to a good place and I want to express my deep admiration for the love, care and concern I witnessed from citizens of this district.”
School Start Up and COVID Update
Kriger said she is happy to report SD83 had a smooth start up with staff and students returning to clean, safe schools. “I would like to once again thank all the staff who worked diligently over the summer months to improve and clean our facilities.”
“It’s been gratifying to see our students return to in-class learning and we have heard from our principals how great it was to see high school students being able to work outside of cohort groups and elementary students out playing with their friends and classmates during break times!”
“As you are aware, many of the restrictions we experienced with COVID last year have been loosened. I believe we all understand the importance of providing students with opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities. I’m pleased to report that extracurricular opportunities can be enjoyed by students despite continued challenges with COVID-19. We are still taking preventative health and safety measures which were developed by Provincial Health Officials and the Ministry of Education.”
These include the daily health check, mask wearing indoors for all staff and visitors as well as students in grades 4 to 12, including at their desk and on school buses. She added there have been multiple schools impacted with COVID exposures across the district. “When we are notified by Interior Health, our principals and vice principals collect the information necessary for the health authority to determine next steps.”
“Around the issue of COVID, I’d like to thank our partners in Health for making vaccination clinics accessible for our communities and caring for those impacted by the virus. Given the situations we experienced with unauthorized individuals entering our schools last week, I’d like to also thank parents and guardians for their understanding and support. Our school staff and PVPs did an excellent job of ensuring that students were well cared for during a challenging time.”
Later in the meeting Culler reported to the Board that SD83 will be receiving two grants under the COVID-19 Recovery Plan, one with a mental health focus and the other with a health and safety focus. The one time COVID-19 Recovery Plan grant of $470,845 is to help address the impacts on students and staff of isolation and stress because of the pandemic. The one time health and safety grant of $183,168 is to help support the safe return to B.C. schools with necessary cleaning, disinfecting, hand hygiene resources, ventilation, and personal protection equipment supplies.
SD83’s projected enrolment last spring was around 6,500 students. Kriger said she is pleased to report that the current enrolment is 6,674, which is 174 students up from the projections.
“Another area of growth for us has been within the International Student & Homestay Program. The program has grown from nine students in 20-21 school year to 38 this year. I personally want to welcome the seven students joining us from Belgium, seven from Germany, 10 from Italy, one from China and 13 from Spain.” She added 21 of the students are joining the district for the full year. The students are attending Eagle River, Jackson, Sullivan and Pleasant Valley Secondary.
“I’d like to thank District Principal Rob MacAulay and his team for the excellent work they continue to do in this area. Of course, it would be impossible to have a successful program without community members who are willing to invite these students to become part of their family. So, I’d like to extend a “thank you” to all those who assist us in making this a viable program.”
Kriger also noted that the district currently has 676 students enrolled in the Education Outreach Program. There are 54 enrolled in Kindergarten to Grade 8 (which would be full time) with the remainder taking courses at the Grade 9-12. Of these approximately 115 are full time and the remainder are enrolled in a “brick and mortar” school and picking up a course or two.
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
Kriger also highlighted September 30 at the meeting, which has been declared the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.” This day is intended to recognize the legacy of residential schools, to honour the voices of Indigenous survivors and an opportunity for each one of us to continue to journey through the reconciliation process. SD83 is committed to creating transformational change through honouring the voices of survivors.” She invited trustees to check on the SD83 website early next week for updates regarding events planned. She also noted that SD83 will be lowering its flag for the entire week to acknowledge this day.
2020-21 Year End Audited Financial Statements
After the presentation of the Financial Statement Discussion and Analysis by Director of Finance Jeremy Hunt and the report of a “clean” audit opinion by independent auditor Murray Smith of KPMG, the Board approved the 2020-21 Annual Audited Financial Statements. Smith thanked the SD83 Finance Department for their work in supplying all the files and information required for the audit. He commented it looks like there has been a successful transition to Culler and Hunt, from former Secretary Treasurer Alanna Cameron and Director of Finance Gary Greenhough. He paid a special thanks to Greenhough saying he worked well with him over the years KPMG has been doing the audits. He also noted that the district’s financial statement discussion and analysis is a very helpful document and is meant to be read in conjunction with the auditor’s report.
The Board also passed a motion approving the allocation of operating surplus, which had been discussed by the Board in June, to various projects including school budgets, career programs, automated external defibrillators, portables, and information technology.
Working Committee for Long Range Facilities Plan (Salmon Arm)
The Board gave approval to the terms of reference for the Salmon Arm Zone School Reconfiguration Working Group. The mandate of this committee will be to advise the Board on all matters related to the implementation of Option E-5 in principle, which is to change Salmon Arm urban schools to K-5, one middle of 6-8, and two 9-12 secondaries. The committee will propose a viable timeline, as well as consider impacts to students, staff, feeder schools, transportation, and facilities. Trustee Marianne VanBuskirk will be chair of this committee with the alternate being Amanda Krebs. For the already established Armstrong Working Group, Tennile Lachmuth is the chairperson and Quentin Bruns the alternate.
2022-23 Five Year Capital Plan Submission
The Board gave approval to the 2022-23 Five Year Major Capital Plan submission and the 2022-23 Minor Capital Plan submission to the Ministry of Education. Director of Operations Travis Elwood presented the information explaining under the “major capital projects” the school district is applying for funding to have Len Wood Middle School gym rebuilt to a middle school sized gym. Under the new school envelope SD83 is applying for a 300 capacity school built in the Salmon Arm downtown area. The district is also applying, under the school replacement program, to have the gym at Pleasant Valley Secondary School replaced under this program.
Under the minor capital programs SD83 is applying for heating and ventilation upgrades for six schools as well as funding to replace a heat pump and unit vents at South Canoe. Under the carbon neutral program the district is applying for funding to upgrade lighting at four schools. The district is applying for playground funding for Armstrong and Highland Park schools, and for one new bus (to accommodate the new route in the Sorrento/Tappen area).
Transition continues to MyEd BC
Kriger reported that the district is into its second year of onboarding MyEd BC, the provincial information system. She acknowledged Manager of Information Technology Stephen Ollinger, Data Co-ordinator Bonnie Kelly, and District Principal Reid Findlay, who she said have done an outstanding job of transitioning our district. The amount of work, training and communication that is necessary to successfully transition over to a new system is enormous and these individuals have done this work with clear direction, consistent communication and have offered tremendous support to their colleagues who use the system on a daily basis. “We are also moving forward with the Family Portal this year K-12 and implementing the online registration in mid-October, to coincide with the face-to-face new kindergarten registration after the Thanksgiving weekend.”
New Playground for South Canoe
Kriger reported to trustees that SD83 received good news this summer! South Canoe Elementary will be receiving $165,000 for a fully funded accessible playground from the Provincial Government’s Playground Equipment Program. Once the district receives permission from the Agricultural Land Commission to go ahead with installation, the plan is for a playground that incorporates wood and natural features to fit with the aesthetics of the school and the outdoor learning program.
Visit from astronaut
She also reported to the Board that on September 17, students at Falkland School had the opportunity to meet former astronaut, Chris Hadfield. Chris was gracious enough to visit the school and share some music and stories about his experiences as an astronaut. “During a time such as COVID, where students have had so much disruption to a regular school experience, this was truly a bright spot in the lives of the Falkland students and staff. We are all looking forward to creating more of these positive experiences for our students.”
Kriger invited trustees to Ranchero Elementary on Friday, September 24 at 12:30 p.m. She noted Ranchero Elementary School will be opening its time capsule, prepared for them by staff and students of the school in the Year 2000. Community members, former students and staff, and trustees are all invited to attend. However, anyone attending is asked to please pre-register with the school as there is an attendance limit of 100 people.
Internal Administrative Calendar
The Board adopted the 2021-22 revised internal administrative calendar, which was to add the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation Day on September 30.
Underspent Targeted Funds
The Board has sent a request to underspend its targeted Indigenous Education allocation by $138,623 and have it carry forward to the 2021-22 Indigenous Education amended annual budget.
Reports and Announcements
Ed Directions – VanBuskirk reported that Ed Directions Committee, which deals with all things to do with education, held its first meeting of the new school year last week. She added two of the presentations including one about the government’s proposed Seamless Day Project (before and after school care) and good news is coming about that. She said they also heard a report on the District Literacy Team. “We are looking for two students to sit on the committee so if you know of anyone interested please ask them to get in touchwith their principal.”
Labour Relations – Trustee Quentin Bruns reported the Labour Relations Committee met last week and did an annual review of employee exit surveys, worked through Human Resource guidelines, and on the exempt staff salary replacement. “We made some process with that and some principals and vice-principals will be move up to the next level of salary progression, which is good news.”
Partner Group Liaison – Trustee Marty Gibbons reported the first meeting for Partner Group is on Thursday.
Committee of the Whole – Board Chair Amanada Krebs the first Committee of the Whole meeting will be scheduled for October.
Policy Committee – Trustee Tennile Lachmuch reported Policy Committee was refreshed and ready to go back to work. Their first meeting of the new year was attended by consultant Anne Cooper who is helping them streamline the policy renovation process.
FNEC Update – VanBuskirk reported the First Nations Education Council (FNEC) meet last Wednesday. She said there were several round table discussions on different issues and then reports from the Bands. She added District Principal of Indigenous Education Mishel Quaal was the chair for the meeting, however being chair rotates at each meeting. VanBuskirk also showed trustees the SD83 Orange Shirt for the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. The orange shirt, which is designed by local Indigenous artist Tania Willard (sister of SD83 Indigenous Education Worker Tara Willard) features a hummingbird, which represents healing and warrior. The hummingbird can fly in all directions so it brings healing to the past, present and future.
Trustee Reports – VanBuskirk also reported on the Salmon Arm Active Transportation Task Force. She explained the advisory task force looks at all things to do with transportation – including walking, biking, scooters and buses. One of the ideas that has developed that includes the school district is inquiring of principals if the students have safe routes to school. “There may be grants available.”
VanBuskirk reported she has visited the schools she represents, welcomed them back to school and let them know to contact her if there are issues she can help with or events they’d like her to attend. She also attended the recent District Parent Advisory Council meeting, along with Trustee Marty Gibbons.
Board Chair Amanada Krebs reported on her meeting with the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) in June. Trustee Gibbons suggested the Board consider engaging in discussions with the CSRD about Malakwa Elementary School, which is being used as a community hall, as he suggested the way it is being used is more under their purview than the school district’s. Culler commented as this is a land matter it should go to an in-camera session.
Thursday, September 30 – National Day of Truth and Reconciliation (schools closed)
Tuesday, October 12 – Regular Board meeting