The board would like to extend a warm welcome back to our parents, teachers and support staff. We look forward to working with all of our education partners to achieve the goals and objectives set out in our district vision and our district achievement contract. We would also like to express our appreciation for all the hard work, extra work and for all the lonely hours that our senior staff and principals and vice principals had to endure during the labour dispute.
We are proud of the many successes in School District No. 53 and we are now ready and looking forward to the years of labour peace ahead where we can turn our minds, energies and resources to building on these successes. There will always be challenges and conflict – we are going to look at these as opportunities for growth and to build positive relationships as well as to meet our board’s objectives of open, transparent communication.
We have heard that the Ministry of Education does not currently have plans to adjust the school calendar, therefore we will not see any changes to the length of the school day, the school year or to the winter and spring breaks. Each school will send out additional information in school newsletters and on websites with details for their respective calendars. All schools report that startups have been busy and not without obvious challenges, but very positive. With this year’s delayed start, we have adjusted our 2014/2015 school calendar to balance semesters one and two in secondary schools, taking advantage of a second winter provincial exam sitting during the week of February 2. In recognition of this change, schools have worked cooperatively to reschedule early dismissals for parent teacher interviews and report cards where they felt appropriate. We thank our school administrators and teachers for their quick attention to this.
During the last week of August the StrongStartBC facilitators participated in two workshops. The first featured Chris Rowan, author of “Virtual Child – The Terrifying Truth About What Technology is Doing to Children”. Chris is a pediatric occupational therapist and her presentation was titled “Technology and its Impact on Early Child Development”. The second workshop featured Dr. Deborah MacNamara speaking on two topics: “The Teach Ability Factor” and “Making Sense of Anxiety”. This workshop was attended by bus drivers, education assistants, Aboriginal support workers, a few teachers and many of our service providers as well as parents from our communities. Thank you to Lisa McCall and Samantha James for leading this initiative.
Our district Aboriginal Education Advisory Council will meet on Tuesday, October 7, from 1 to 3 p.m. in the SBO annex. This meeting will review budget and consider actions to move our enhancement agreement forward.
School District No. 53 has had a teacher mentor program for more than twenty years. Despite the teacher strike this initiative will move forward and principals will meet with new teachers and mentor teachers to go over the program and expectations. Funds will be transferred to the schools for the principals to oversee. This will allow the program to begin right away.
With the support of a $20,000 grant for the Industry Training Association we hope to show significant growth in our career programs. We are aiming for 13 new secondary school apprentices and 10-12 ACE-IT students. We will also use YES-2-IT grants and ministry grants to provide grades six and seven students with two hands-on awareness programs. We are excited about the newest initiative called “YES-2-IT in the Classroom” when Mr. Boyd Turnbull will do a week long project with grades 6 and 7 students in their home school. In January we offer our YES-2-IT program where visiting Red Seal trades people will work with each grade 6 and 7 student demonstrating their trade in a hands-on-format. The district has increased Mr. Rod Kitt’s assignment by twoblocks to allow greater coordination and supervision of our SSA, ACE IT and dual credit programs.
This year we will be doing the MDI (Middle Years Development Instrument) at both the grade 4 and grade 7 level and the EDI (Early Development Instrument) with our kindergarten students. We are planning to share the results with our PAC’s, communities and parents so that we can plan strategies together to support our students.
The Finance and Facilities Committee received a presentation by the district’s auditors, Omland Heal Chartered Accountants, indicating a clean audit and good internal controls. The district is ending the year with an accumulated surplus of $2.1 million. The surplus is restricted for various items including the following:
*2014/2015 operating budget costs – $526,000
*Future computer lease payments – $250,000
*School budgets – $133,000
*Employee support grant – $236,000
*Facilities upgrades – $368,169
The operations department was hard at work this summer ensuring that schools were clean and safe for students to return to in September. Despite the strike challenges, summer cleaning and maintenance projects proceeded as scheduled. The major project this summer was an HVAC replacement at SESS. The $400,000 project has provided the school with improved lighting and heating/cooling efficiencies.
Ms. Deborah Sansome has accepted the position of director of facilities beginning October 14, 2014. Ms. Sansome joins the district having worked in the Langley school district with responsibilities for energy management, custodial, transportation and maintenance. Mr. Bruce Porteous is serving as the Interim Director of Facilities. The board appreciates Mr. Porteous’s support during this transition period.
We would like to thank the Telus ambassadors for their donation of 216 backpacks filled with school supplies. These have been distributed to students around the district.
Our Keremeos Learning Centre Childcare, operated by Penticton and District Community Resources Society, is up and running as of Tuesday, September 23. We know that the community is happy with this added opportunity for children.
We would like to invite everyone to our October learning forum to be held in Keremeos at the Similkameen Elementary Secondary School library on October 8 at 7 p.m. This forum will feature new career routes and options open to students for graduation. Presentations and discussions will be on work experience, SSA, ACE-IT, dual credit programs and elementary programs such YES-2-It and YES-2-It in the classroom.
Our Roots of Empathy program is well supported and growing in our district. We will have 17 programs running this year. Six of these will be at the grade 5 level, a target group for us this year. We have also expanded to initiate this program in at least one of our alternate schools. This program is strong and valued as it serves to address our goals around social and emotional learning. It is only possible in our district because of the many volunteers involved in the program – we thank all of you.
Should you have any questions, please contact me at 250-498-1333.
Submitted by Marieze Tarr, Chairperson
School District No. 53 (Okanagan Similkameen)