Two non-instructional days added to school calendar

School board adds more days off to calendar and passes amended budget.

To follow up on directions given by the Minister of Education, two additional non-instructional days to support curriculum implementation have been added to the SD20 school calendar. This will be followed up next year by the addition of one more non-instructional day. This brings the total on non-instructional days in this year’s calendar to eight. The new dates are April 15 and May 19. The days were mandated by the education ministry, but the choice of the dates is up to each district. The board consulted with a committee that included 18 teachers and district staff before selecting the dates.

Amended budget for current year adopted

Trustees passed an amended annual budget bylaw for the 2015- 2016 school year in the amount of $42,208,388. The midterm budget is balanced and takes into account changes to items that were budget estimations at the beginning of the year and now have become actual income or expenses.

The revised budget also includes several grants received from the Ministry of Education and revenue generated by sharing services with other districts.

Revised expenses included increases to principal and vice principal wages, additional educational assistant staffing and capital expenditures on portables for Glenmerry. Some of these expenses were funded out of one time surplus money and Natalie Verigin, secretary-treasurer for SD 20 warned, “This one time surplus money that we used for ongoing expenses is what some people call a structural deficit. We have used one time money for ongoing expenses that can’t be sustained with current budget money.”

Kootenay-Columbia Learning Centre gets funding boost

The committee for children and youth at risk recommended that $6,000 of the CommunityLINK surplus be allocated to Kootenay-Columbia Learning Centre in support of resources and equipment for the Castlegar site. A relocation of the junior alternate program has meant that the facility being used is lacking some of the resources needed to run the program. The board supported the motion.

Decision to rename Twin Rivers postponed

A decision to rename Twin Rivers Elementary and Castlegar Primary was postponed after much discussion. The board had previously asked that a committee consisting of stakeholders be formed to offer suggestions of a new name that would better reflect the change of configuration that has taken the two schools and joined them into one school with two campuses.

The committee submitted a list of choices in order of preference as follows: Twin Rivers Elementary and Castlegar Primary School; Twin Rivers Elementary Columbia Campus and Twin Rivers Elementary Kootenay Campus; Twin Rivers Elementary School and Twin Rivers Elementary School– Castlegar Primary Campus; Twin Rivers Elementary School and Twin Rivers Primary School. The first choice reflects the fact that the committee was not in favour of a name change. The committee also reported that two classes at Twin Rivers were surveyed and an overwhelming majority of students did not want any change to the current names.

Castlegar trustee Mickey Kinakin was in favour of respecting the committee’s recommendation to not rename the school. “We as a board need to be sensitive to students and their parents as to what they want,” he said.

However, several other trustees including Toni Driutti and Kim Mandoli really wanted to see name suggestions that reflect a directive to join the two schools as one and did not like any of the given suggestions. Superintendent Greg Luterbach stated, “The status quo does not reflect that they are one school with two campuses.”

Twin Rivers PAC member Catherine Zaitsoff attended the meeting and spoke to the board during the public input time. She reiterated that students and parents have embraced the change to one school and are not confused by the current names. She also explained that parents need a name that clearly communicates which building is being talked about when discussing things with their children such as where they will pick them up, where to meet a sibling or where an event will be held.

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