Synopsis of March Board meeting

Synopsis of March Board meeting

The Board of School District No. 83 (North Okanagan-Shuswap) approved the 2023-24 school year calendar at its meeting Tuesday evening at the District Education Support Centre (DESC). A survey (which opened immediately after the February Board meeting) about the proposed calendar collected some 261 comments and a change was made to reflect some of the responses, which was to move observing the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation from the Friday to the Monday, to better align with other school districts and businesses.

Shuswap Trail Alliance
Shuswap Trail Alliance executive director Jen Bellhouse, operation manager Adrian Bostock and City of Salmon Arm planner Chris Larson presented information to the Board asking if it was interested in working with the Trail Alliance and the City to formalize four well-established social trails near SD83 schools. These trails are near Jackson, Sullivan, Bastion and Shuswap Middle School. They noted the trails are already well used. By working in conjunction with the Trail Alliance and the City the trails will be formalized (clearing and signage with other work done if necessary). This work would be staggered over a couple of years. Secretary Treasurer Dale Culler noted he walked these trails with Jen and Adrian and has a good idea about what’s actually happening with these well used trails. “I really appreciate the time they spent with me,” he adds. Trustees asked several questions about liabilities and easements, and will consider the request at an upcoming Board meeting.

Shuswap Youth Launch

Trustee Corryn Grayston (left) and the Shuswap Youth Launch team of Mikayla Wilkinson, Cadyn Moraice, Abbi Paetsch, and Shaun Billey

A group of students are once again organizing a free, local leadership conference for youth! The Shuswap Youth Launch committee comprised of Grade 12 students from Sullivan, Mikayla Wilkinson, Cadyn Moraice, Abbi Paetsch, and Shaun Billey presented to the Board at its meeting on Tuesday evening. This will be the third Youth Launch which was held virtually in 2021 (because of COVID), and then was a hybrid last year with students in-person at the Salmar Classic and online. Those attending in-person also took part in a luncheon in Ross Street Plaza, presented and served by local sponsor Shuswap Orthodontics. This was a real hit with presenters and the students! This year’s event will once again be in-person and online and registration packages will soon be going out to all schools. Students from neighbouring districts will also be invited to attend virtually.
“I admire what you are doing,” commented Kriger to the students. She noted that with the work currently being done on the strategic plan one of the things they are endeavouring to do is come up with a description of what knowledge, skills and values a graduate should have. “Each one of you exemplifies what we hope for students in our district. It is a delight to have you here tonight.”

Superintendent’s Report
Superintendent Donna Kriger updated the Board on strategic planning, saying they are about mid-way through the process and are anticipating by June a draft strategic plan will be brought to the Board. She noted there is an online session on Wednesday, March 15 as well as more in-person student sessions and a session with Splatsin. She said a strategic planning committee is being formed and that there will still be additional opportunities for the community to express itself.

Noting that one of the pillars of the district’s current strategic plan is a culture of health and wellness, she reported to trustees that the second instalment of the family affordability fund, which was provided by the Ministry, has gone out to schools. This fund is used to help vulnerable families with funding for such things as food, clothing, and school supplies. The district has also received information from the Ministry that a Ministry supported food program is being developed. Although details are sparse at the moment, Kriger explained that it looks like it will run for three years, starting next school year. Districts’ will receive funding for one full time job to oversee the program. Kriger added that staff wellness continues to be a priority. “Our students can’t thrive if our staff aren’t well.”
Kriger reported on the Knowledge Keepers luncheon, which was a powerful opportunity she had to sit with the Knowledge Keepers, hear their stories, and gather information for strategic planning. “Absolute privilege and honour to have that opportunity with them. It is just a reminder about the importance of voice and creating space for Indigenous peoples to tell their stories and certainly a critical part of Truth and Reconciliation.”
From there Kriger moved into a presentation on some data from the How Are We Doing Report. This report is an opportunity for the school district to determine how equitable the education system is. “Equity is a key word we are hearing lots and lots about. So it allows us to really look at some of the educational outcomes we have and be able to determine if there is parity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.”
Kriger went through the profile of the district and showed some Foundation Skills Assessment graphs which showed that at the Grade 4 level results in numeracy and literacy for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students were virtually the same. However, by Grade 12 the Graduation Rates for Indigenous students had dropped away from the non-Indigenous, particularly if the less-vigorous adult dogwoods were taken into consideration. “There is a disproportionate per cent of adult dogwoods among Indigenous learners. What we have heard from the Knowledge Keepers is that we need to keep high expectations for our Indigenous learners.”
She also went over some next steps including an equity scan/study being worked on by Director of Instruction – Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Carol-Ann Leidloff and Director of Instruction – Indigenous Education, Chelsea Prince.

In her report, Kriger celebrated some student achievements including three SD83 high school wrestlers taking part in the national wrestling championships from March 23-25. Sam Muddiman and Kynan Dicker from Ranchero Elementary and Andrei Dumitrache from Salmon Arm Secondary are all moving on to the national competition! Coach Duane Kroeker, a teacher at Ranchero, will be accompanying the team. She said another successful district art fair and workshops were held last week and thanked the local artisans who shared their knowledge for the workshops and to the staff and organizers (Corrinne Langston and Kirsten Mazur) who made the fair possible! She also mentioned two upcoming career events in our district including a session with representatives from the Canadian Institute of Actuaries (CIA) coming up in April and and an experiential learning opportunity with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.


Board Committee Structure
The trustees discussed the next steps for Partner Group Liaison, or whether it had served its purpose. Partner Group was originally started when the district had a single appointed trustee and it allowed him to meet with the partners at once. It was noted that now, with a full board and regular committees there were many more avenues for information and discussion. Board Chair Marianne VanBuskirk commented at the Partner Group meeting in January she asked representatives if they felt there was a need for the committee. She said a good portion felt that it has served its purpose, some wanted to continue, and others said it should continue but modify the number of meetings. Krebs suggested that Partner Group continue for next year with fewer meetings and then assess it. “We wouldn’t have to change anything, just reduce the number of meetings.” Other trustees spoke in favour of this change. Committees will be under discussion at an upcoming Trustee Ed. Session along with the Board Work Plan for next year.

Off to France
It is off to France in 2024 for students from Pleasant Valley Secondary! The Board of Education approved in principle the PVSS field trip to France in March 2024. Teacher Janet Gillis and Indigenous Education Worker Tori Jewell presented the proposal to trustees. They are hoping to take a group of about 20 to 24 students to experience French culture, use French language, visit sites from the Second World War, go on museum, gallery and walking tours, take a cooking class, and learn life skills such as how to navigate with maps. Priority will be given to French 11 and 12 students and then, if not full, it will be open to any PVSS student in grades 10-12. She said there will be some fundraising to help with costs, which are estimated at just under $5,000 a person for the 10 to 12 days. The trip is being organized by STS Tours and the plan is to go to Paris (visiting many of the national monuments such as the Louvre and Eiffel Tower, eat Parisian cuisine and, hopefully attend a French high school for a day). Upon leaving Paris, they will go to Normandy and the tip of Brittany thereafter. “Having taken students to the World War II beaches, museums, and cemeteries on previous field trips, I would like to so again to enrich their social studies knowledge. I would also like to take them to Mont St. Michel and Saint Malo. The last leg of our journey would possibly be the South of France or London.” Trustees thanked the two for all their work on this trip and passed a motion approving the trip in principle.

Appointment of Financial Auditor
The Board approved a motion to appoint KPMG as the financial auditors for the school district for a three-year term, commencing in the 2022-23 fiscal year. Secretary Treasurer Dale Culler reported a request for proposal (RFP) was issued for the audit services for the three fiscal years starting 2022-23 to 2024-25, with an additional optional extension for the 2025-26 to 2027-28 fiscal years. The evaluation committee reviewed all three of the proposals received and evaluated the proponents based on the criteria in the RFP. The committee recommended KPMG as the preferred proponent and that, in its opinion, is the optimal proposal taking all factors into consideration. 

Education Directions
Committee Chair Marianne VanBuskirk reported the next meeting is on April 5.

BCSTA Update
VanBuskirk congratulated Trustee Tennile Lachmuth on her successful term as President of the BCSTA Thompson Okanagan Branch. Lachmuth will move into the role of past president after the BCSTA’s AGM in April. Lachmuth reported on the branch meeting commenting those attending had a very good session on coding and she hopes that it might be able to come to SD83. Trustee Corryn Grayston attended the BCSTA provincial council meeting in Vancouver. She noted there was a lot of business on the agenda and one of the motions that went forward was requesting the Ministry of Education and Child Care continue the Student & Family Affordability Fund beyond June 2023 and she was happy to see that there have been some announcements about the new food program.

Board Correspondence
VanBuskirk noted that the Board had written a letter of support for the City of Salmon Arm’s active transportation plan.

Trustee Reports
Trustees Amanda Krebs and Brent Gennings both complimented the recent three part online series for parents about online gaming, social media, and sexting and sexploitation with Safer School Together trainer Scott Rothermel. Krebs noted, with her parent “hat” on, that it was very well done and informative. Gennings echoed the comments saying it was too bad more parents didn’t join in because the information that was shared was important and if schools and parents worked on it together hopefully it could work towards eliminating some of the issues.
Grayston reported on the BC budget session that she sat in on hosted by the Ministers of Education and Agriculture. She noted that there was some positives for schools including funding for the food program, recruiting staff, and capital projects. She also noted she attended several PAC meetings and one thing brought up was that data from the strategic plan session be filtered to see if there were any barriers that affect rural students. She noted she has attended several strategic plan sessions and although not huge numbers, there has been really good discussions. “I appreciate the effort and time the leadership team is investing in this.”
Lachmuth noted that on Monday was the traditional PVSS student vs teacher hockey game, with apparently the teachers prevailing. “However, they may have brought in some ringers,” she said with a grin. Lachmuth expressed thanks to Secretary Treasurer Dale Culler and his executive assistant Veronica Deacon for all the work to support the BCSTA Branch. “Thank you very much.”
VanBuskirk reported on pink shirt day and the deep rich learning, all of the walkers that supported The Coldest Night of the Year (who raised $76,000 for the hungry, hurting and homeless), the Knowledge Keepers strategic planning session, the strategic planning session at the DESC, and the education session for trustees on consent (led by Director Leidloff) and Robert’s Rules of Order (led by Secretary Treasurer Culler). She wrapped up by mentioning long time Little Shuswap Lake Band education director and councillor Joan Arnouse, who recently retired. “So much gratitude for all she has done for the school district.”

Upcoming dates
Board of Education meeting on April 18 at 6 p.m. at Eagle River Secondary in Sicamous.