The Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) is building a case to have a new school built for its students, and it’s reaching out to the public for input.
Over the next few months OKIB will conduct a school feasibility study to determine the building size, facilities and service area best suited for the community.
Located at 12420 Westside Road in Vernon, the OKIB’s current Cultural Immersion School is housed in a building from the 1950s. The band says there’s no way to expand the building, meaning the school is limited to enrolling 45 students.
Additionally, 76 per cent of OKIB students are transported to surrounding districts and private schools. That means students spend an average of 315 hours of bus transportation in a 180-day school year, according to the band.
“The size, location and amenities available of a new school will be connected to the level of community engagement,” the OKIB said in a December newsletter. The level of support garnered at the sessions will help decide the square footage, service area and location of the new school.
An online survey is available on the OKIB website, where people are invited to provide their input. There will also be five community engagement sessions that will provide answers to specific questions about the study. Planning for those sessions is still underway.
The first meeting will introduce the project and provide an estimated timeline, as well as establish what information is needed from the community.
The second session will focus on the service area and available funding options. The third will discuss location and orientation of the building.
In the fourth meeting planners will look at the findings of the data gathered to that point, and the last meeting will centre on the school’s approval process and look ahead to the next steps.
The study is estimated to take about six months. After that an eight-month design process will begin, and construction of the school itself will take approximately 16 to 24 months.
The size of the new school’s facilities will depend on the number of students the school will hold. The OKIB’s goal is to build a school to accommodate 250 students.
The final report is expected to be completed by March. Questions regarding the survey can be directed to Kalli Van Stone, School Feasibility Study Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 250-542-3444.