Indigenous advocate Elaine Mearns talks with Grade 2-3 students at Pearson Road Elementary on Orange Shirt Day, Sept. 30. (Contributed)

Indigenous advocate Elaine Mearns talks with Grade 2-3 students at Pearson Road Elementary on Orange Shirt Day, Sept. 30. (Contributed)

Central Okanagan schools face over-capacity issues

Briefs: French Immersion for new Lake Country school; Kelowna Secondary enrolment space maxed out

  • Oct. 4, 2020 12:00 a.m.

Parents will be called upon to provide input on two long-term planning facility issues facing the Central Okanagan School District – overcapacity at Kelowna Secondary School (KSS) and offering a French Immersion program at the new H.S. Grenda Middle School opening in Lake Country in September 2021.

A school district staff report stated as of Sept. 24, KSS had 1,869 students enrolled, an increase of 119 students, a six per cent rise, over the past three years.

With a projected continuing increase of 10 per cent over the next three years, the school doesn’t have more classroom space or the ability to add portables to accommodate additional students.

“The district has requested a new high school in its Five Year Capital Plan, however, this will not be a solution in the emergent capacity issue as a new school takes three to four years after an approval to be in operation,” stated the staff report.

“Such an approval is also unlikely while the district has space for secondary students at Okanagan Mission Secondary School due to grade configuration changes.”

As for French Immersion at H.S. Grenda, the school’s first year will be open to Grade 6 and 7 students, taking on Grade 8 students the following year.

“There has been interest in the community to investigate the possibility of offering Ecole Peter Greer Elementary School students who are in the French Immersion program to be able to continue their program at H.S. Grenda Middle School, rather than the current option of Ecole Dr. Knox Middle School.”

Public forums and survey options seeking input on these school registration issues will unfold during the school year.

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Updated school district enrolment figures since Sept. 10 show an increase of 407 students over last year.

As of Sept. 29, there were 22,697 students registered in Central Okanagan public schools.

The breakdown shows a decrease of 79 students at the secondary and increase of 414 increase at the middle school levels, due to grade configuration changes.

Elementary schools are up 72 students overall, while homeschooling has increased from 14 to 34.

There are also 672 students participating in the eSchoolBC program for remote learning, and all have until Nov. 13 to return to their catchment area schools if they choose.

That number is also expected to increase slightly as the eSchoolBC waitlists are eliminated with the hiring of additional teachers to fill program needs.

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The board of education won’t require parent advisory councils to make their scheduled payments for the 2020-21 school year on loans issued by the school district prior to June 30.

The deferral was granted for a one year period.

Staff recommended the move due to the financial constraints facing parent advisory councils, as COVID-19 as severely limited potential fundraising opportunities that existed in past years.

The loans help accelerate construction on parent advisory council supported projects, such as playgrounds and courtyards.

The current outstanding loans total $123,288.19 between six schools – KSS, KLO, Mar Jok, Peachland, Rutland and Shannon Lake.

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The school board will send a letter of support to the Okanagan Jewish Community Association’s bid to purchase a portable modular unit to provide up to 20 additional daycare spaces.

The portable would be located on the association’s Glenmore property, which has provided non-denominational child care in Glenmore since 1995.

The Adventure Junction Early Learning Centre, owned and operated by Christa Jenn, is the current child care provider, currently with 36 child care spaces operating at full capacity.

Research for a child care study in the Central Okanagan identified 40 per cent of parents in the Glenmore area who don’t have access to optimal care for infant/toddlers (three to five years), three to five-year-olds and school-age kids.

READ MORE: Central Okanagan School District welcomes funding help

READ MORE: COVID-19 generates cost reduction for Central Okanagan School District

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