Hundreds of new students, new teachers to start school next week in the Central Okanagan - InfoNews

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Hundreds of new students, new teachers to start school next week in the Central Okanagan

RCMP Cpl. Jesse O'Donaghey greeted families at a SpeedWatch station in front of Quigley Elementary School in Kelowna two years ago. School starts again Tuesday with speed zones in effect.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Central Okanagan School District
August 30, 2019 - 5:00 PM

KELOWNA - As the second-fastest growing district in B.C, the Central Okanagan School District is expecting to add about 350 new students when the school year starts Tuesday.

While growth projections tend to be accurate in the range of 98-99 per cent, some adjustments will need to be made over the next few weeks, district superintendent Kevin Kaardal told iNFOnews.ca.

“Things, when you’re a growing district, are always tight and it’s a bit of a wait and see to see who arrives,” he said. “What we can’t know for certain is who has left the district and where they left from.”

The growth will bring the district’s student population to an estimated 23,632.

That means 30 new teachers were hired, in addition to those hired to replace teachers lost through attrition. It also meant buying five new portables and relocating seven others.

With the opening of Canyon Falls Middle School to Grades 6 and 7 with Grade 8 to be added next year in the Upper Mission, that has freed up room in some other elementary schools.

Most of the growth will be in West Kelowna and Lake Country since those are two of the fastest growing communities in Western Canada, Kaardal said.

Another complication of student growth has been the bussing system.

The district set a July deadline for people to apply for bussing and, because of unexpected growth in demand, staff were left scrambling to notify parents if their bussing requests had been approved, Kaardal said.

The school district charges $225 per year per student to ride the bus. Those outside school walking limits are guaranteed a seat. If there’s extra room available on buses, so-called courtesy riders can also buy a seat for the same $225, even though the actual cost is $475.

In the past, courtesy rides have been able to get seats but, with increased demand, that may not always be possible going forward.

All parents should be notified by the end of today, Aug. 30, Kaardal said.

The transportation system is under review so, likely, deadlines for applications will be earlier next year and there may be discussions of things like higher fees for courtesy riders, he said.

The bus system transports about 5,500 students over 5,000 kms each day.

Despite all this growth, this district is likely below peak student levels reached a few years ago, Kaardal said.


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