CENTRAL OKANAGAN - It’s times like these, with enrolment growing and limited space, that Central Okanagan school board chair Moyra Baxter wonders about the extensive school closures the board presided over in the early 2000s.
Baxter says the district is screaming for space, not only because of a shift in demographics but the indirect affect of the 2016 win by the B.C. Teachers Federation over class sizes.
New teachers were needed to meet the need for smaller class sizes and now more classroom space is needed to accommodate the extra classes, Baxter says.
“At the time we closed those schools, we were short on money and enrolment was dropping,” she says. “I’m not an economist but it’s hard to know if we actually did save a lot of money.”
Baxter and the school board go into tomorrow night’s public meeting trying to sort out class configurations for schools on the Westside, which again is complicated by lack of class space.
“Our biggest problem is there is only one secondary school. We need a new high school on the Westside,” she says, knowing full well that a West Kelowna high school is at least 10 years away and sitting behind a second high school for Kelowna on the wish list.
Even the new Canyon Falls middle school for the Mission or news last week of approval for the construction of a new middle school for Lake Country doesn’t change the picture much, Baxter says.
“In Kelowna, we have no more room, so we don’t know how we can accomplish. Kelowna Secondary cannot accommodate another grade,” she adds.
in a report to the board, superintendent Kevin Kaardahl says space pressure is expected to continue in West Kelowna, Lake Country and Glenmore.
In Kelowna, the space crunch is such that staff do not believe they could implement a grade reconfiguration and recommend waiting until a new high school is built in Kelowna, Kaardahl writes.
Baxter says the grade configurations proposed for the Westside have generated “strong comments” and the district is expecting a large crowd at tomorrow night’s meeting.
The public meeting begins 6 p.m. in room one of the Hollywood Education Services building, 1040 Hollywood Road South in Kelowna.
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