September has been a very busy month for the Board of Education. We had a workshop on governance which was a great learning experience for all of us. The Board hosted a Learning Forum in Keremeos where Superintendent Young gave an overview of the BC Education Plan and how it related to our district achievement plan. We will be hosting these learning forums in all of our communities and it is the board’s hope that through these forums we can engage the public in the work that we do and showcase all the great things that are happening in our schools. In November the Board will be hosting community engagement meetings where we will share enrollment, budget projections, EDI results (which indicates the social competence of children when they enter Kindergarten), as well as challenges that are facing the board. We urge the public to attend these important events as this would also be an opportunity for community members to provide input into the Board of Education’s work.
Our schools all reported a smooth startup. Our enrollment still continues to fluctuate as students continue to register and students registering with YouLearn (distance learning ) are only coming in to register now. On September 18th our enrollment was 2,344 FTE which is a decrease of 48 FTE’s from September 2011. Changes in numbers that are worth mentioning are at Cawston Primary School which has 20 fewer students than September 2011, and Tuc-el-Nuit Elementary School which has 21 students fewer than September 2011.
At the regular board meeting held on September 26 the superintendent highlighted our district goals as submitted to the Ministry of Education in the District Achievement contract:
• to improve student success in literacy
• to improve student success in numeracy
• to support schools in creating safe, positive learning environments
• to increase transition and completion rates for all students with a particular focus on Aboriginal students.
We are excited about “the hub” at Oliver Elementary School. The hub is a “one stop shop” for families with various agencies like Public Health, Mental Wellness Centre, Supported Child and Development Program, Okanagan Boys and Girls Club, Ministry of Children and Families, South Okanagan Immigration and Community Services, speech therapy and others. We are finalizing schedules and protocols and the hub is scheduled for a soft opening next week. We also have a new preschool partnership at Oliver Elementary School.
Osoyoos Secondary School is starting a golf academy this year and that will tie in nicely with the hockey academy which is already being offered at the school.
All of our summer Read and Rec/Rhyme and Rec programs were very successful and early data indicates some significant results. These programs run for three weeks in the summer and target vulnerable readers. Our pilot program at SESS with intermediate students was very successful with a 97% attendance; these students will be monitored in the next couple of months and results will be reported in November.
Costs for the SOSS project are higher than anticipated and the district together with the general contractor is reviewing the project to determine where reductions of approximately $1.2 million can occur. We are hoping for further information at the regular board meeting on October 24.
The board received funding in the amount of $50,000 from the ministry to upgrade playground equipment at SESS and a bylaw was adopted at the regular meeting to receive the funding. The board also adopted a motion to restrict the operating surplus of $1,352,918 to various areas such as technology, staffing, ground maintenance, vehicle purchase, financial/human resources systems upgrade and accounts payable. The board also approved the audited financial statements.
Please watch your local school newsletter and newspaper to see when the community information meeting will be in your community and come out and join us so that we can focus together on what is important to you in the education of your children.
If you have any questions, please contact me at 250-498-1333.
Submitted by Marieze Tarr, Chairperson
School District No. 53 (Okanagan Similkameen)