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More space needed in Kelowna schools for incoming teachers

With the influx of teachers expected to come to Kelowna in September, the School District is grappling with where to put them.
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March 09, 2017 - 8:00 PM

KELOWNA - As new teachers are expected to come to Kelowna in September, the question that still needs answering, is where to put them.

“The physical space will be a challenge, currently we’re at 104 per cent capacity and space is very limited,” School District 23 Secretary-Treasurer Larry Paul said.

B.C.’s Ministry of Education was forced to start funding the hiring of more teachers after last year's Supreme Court decision on teacher’s bargaining rights, related to class sizes. The decision comes after almost 14 years of discussions between the government and the B.C. Teachers' Federation. 

Paul says the school district is actively recruiting teachers for their on-call list, as a number were taken off and given temporary teaching positions.

“By May we’re going to be reposting all those temporary positions into permanent ones,” Paul said.

With schools over capacity, there is little room for the district to work with.

“The short term solutions would be leasing and/or buying portables,” he said. “Once we put orders in they can be constructed relatively quickly.”

Paul says that although portables are a relatively quick solution, finding where to put them, what types are needed and how to implement them still takes time.

However, Paul says that’s a long term solution that is needed to deal with the ongoing problem of over-crowding in schools.

“We’re lobbying the government for funding for The Ponds, but that’s a solution three years down the road, not three months.”

The Ponds is a 750-student middle school to go in the upper mission.

The district has already applied to the provincial government for funding.

“We’re hoping to get approval quickly, the election puts a bit more pressure on timing,” Paul says. “If it’s not announced by April 11, we’ll have to wait at least another year.”

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