Okanagan-Skaha school board and ministry priorities mesh as new school year looms - InfoNews

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Okanagan-Skaha school board and ministry priorities mesh as new school year looms

Okanagan-Skaha school district is ready for the school year with new hires and a new dialogue between the ministry and the school board, Chair Linda Van Alphen says.
August 30, 2017 - 11:45 AM

PENTICTON - Okanagan-Skaha school board Chair Linda Van Alphen says the board is moving forward on several priorities with the approach of the 2017-18 school season.

Van Alphen said in an email yesterday, Aug. 29, a recent conversation with the new education minister has helped provide clarification regarding shared priorities of the school district and the ministry as the new school year gets underway.

The recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling that struck down provincial legislation limiting teachers’ bargaining rights related to class size and composition has meant School District 67 is now able to recruit staff to levels set by the ruling, with the hiring of an additional 40 positions.

Van Alphen says the district hasn't had any problems hiring additional staff, many of whom are coming from the Lower Mainland.

Van Alphen says the district is continuing to move forward with the first year priorities of the five year strategic plan, focussing on internet tech, and the board's mission statements.

The board recently awarded IBM the review of the district’s technology and business departments, at a cost of approximately $150,000, to commence this fall.

Van Alphen spoke with NDP Minister of Education Rob Fleming in July, referencing a letter Premier Horgan had sent to him on his appointment. She said the board would be in full agreement with such things as a review of the funding formula for school districts, expressing a desire to work in partnership to build and upgrade schools in the district.

Van Alphen also spoke to the minister about the hastily assembled rural education enhancement funding legislation, noting two schools in Okanagan Skaha school district which qualified for the funding - Trout Creek Elementary and West Bench Elementary - continued to experience declining enrolment.

“I said we needed clarity about these schools and stable funding in order to plan appropriately,” she said in the email, adding since that conversation the minister has stated publicly the legislation needs further review.

Van Alphen also expressed concerns about the relationship between the ministry and school districts.

“I told the minister the co-governance model between the ministry and school districts needs to be genuine. He said that was his goal as well."


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