North Okanagan-Shuswap ready for students

Classes resume Tuesday in Armstrong, Enderby, Falkland and Grindrod

Students are getting back to the books.

Classes resume Tuesday in the North Okanagan-Shuswap School District.

“We are looking forward to a good start-up,” said Glenn Borthistle, superintendent.

It’s anticipated that total enrolment will be 5,650, down 100 students from last year. However, final figures won’t be known for about a month and there is the potential the forecast could go up or down.

“There is a levelling out or small increase in elementary numbers and a decrease in secondary numbers,” said Borthistle.

The number of students impacts the district’s bottom line.

“We always try to budget conservatively on our projections and make plans accordingly,” said Borthistle.

The district is currently under funding protection from the Ministry of Education and if there is an increase in enrolment and subsequent costs, that could create challenges for the district’s set funding allotment.

Trustees and administration met recently and they prepared a strategy leading up to 2016/17 budget discussions beginning this fall.

“When we get to spring, we will have had time to  discuss ideas,” said Borthistle.

“We will continue discussions around the long-term facilities plan and how to continue supporting rural schools.”

Last March, trustees voted to keep Silver Creek Elementary open after considerable concern was raised among residents and parents.

The school had been proposed for closure as part of the long-term facilities plan due to low numbers and the need to reduce costs.

In preparation for the start of this new school year, staff were kept busy with maintenance and capital works projects at many schools.

Among them was an upgrade to technology infrastructure.

“We are one of the first districts to implement a Next Generation network,” said Borthistle.

“It will provide increased band width to all schools, More and more resources are delivered through technology.”

The new year also begins with a new secretary-treasure Nicole Bittante, who was previously in the Saanich area. Bittante takes over from Sterling Olson, who has moved to the Vernon School District.