August 05, 2015 - 2:30 PM
CENTRAL OKANAGAN - It may be the middle of summer but a new school year is fast approaching for the Central Okanagan School District.
School board chair Moyra Baxter says school trustees face a number of pressing issues for the 2015-16 school year, including another probable budget deficit, the transition to a new superintendent of schools and a pressing need to change catchements in Lake Country.
“Despite that, I feel like we’re starting the year on a good footing. Last year, we had a late start because of the teacher’s strike. We’re looking forward to a normal start.”
Reconfiguration of the French Immersion program to include Glenrosa Middle School will have to be concluded as will a decision on what to do with the aging Rutland Middle School.
“To renovate it would cost more than to build a new school. We’ve been looking for another site but haven’t been able to find one. However, the ministry has told us replacing Rutland is far down their list of priorities.”
Baxter says the education ministry seems more inclined to build new schools than to replace old ones.
“We’’re just going to have to keep nagging on that one.”
Supt. Hugh Gloster is leaving the school district at the end of December and his replacement will start sometime in the fall, allowing for a smoother transition, Baxter says.
The board will also have to start thinking about this year’s anticipated budget deficit of approximately $1 million, Baxter says.
Last year, the district had to cut $1.5 million from its budget of $220 million after the provincial government downloaded the cost of the teacher’s settlement — about $30 million — by dispersing it throughout the 60 school districts in B.C.
“There’s always budget challenges and the cost of everything goes up. We’re supposed to find it in so-called adminstrative savings.”
As part of this years budget, the school district has upped the number of international students it accepts by 30, while doubling the cost of bus transportation from $100 to $200 per student, Baxter says.
The district has already invited B.C.’s new education minister Mike Bernier to come visit the Central Okanagan as well.
“We’re waiting to hear what’s happening with the new education plan from the ministry. It’s always good to talk to the minister and share some of the challenges we face providing the programs we do. They are not part of the basic curriculum but they are the programs that really engage students.”
The school year starts Sept. 8 in the Central Okanagan.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015