Nearly three years after cutting a family health educator from the budget, school trustees say they are satisfied with the way schools are handling the subject of sex education.
In June 2012, the Okanagan Skaha School District announced they would not be filling the position of sexual health teacher Brenda Kroschinsky when she retired at the end of the year. The plan was to shift the curriculum to teachers at the individual schools, prompting protests from teachers, parents and students.
Don McIntyre, director of instruction for the district, delivered a report to the board of trustees on March 9, detailing how various schools were coping with the change. He said the biggest change they have seen is the addition of support from outside agencies.
“At the elementary level, it has almost always been delivered by the classroom teacher. That generally continues to be the case. Middle schools use a combination of teacher counsellors and perhaps some outside agency involvement. High schools have pretty much gone with outside agencies to meet learning outcomes,” said McIntyre.
That includes Interior Health, which McIntyre said has made more resources and services available in the past year. Some schools, however, have gone far outside, to web-based resources from Alberta and Washington State, while some high schools chose to work with a private organization, True to You Okanagan.
Superintendent Wendy Hyer said the disparity of resources used isn’t a concern, as long as the schools are meeting the provincially set learning outcomes for each grade level.
“In regard to learning resources, there are a number of best practices that are approved for every subject and it is really up to the classroom teacher whether they feel more comfortable using a paper resource or an online resource or a health nurse,” said Hyer. “We look at trying to use resources that are accurate and approved by the ministry. Programs will look different depending on sizes of schools and who is in the building.”
Board chair Linda van Alphen said she was satisfied with the results of cutting the family health co-ordinator position and how schools were handling the sexual health curriculum. The change in delivery method is saving the district the equivalent of a teacher’s salary per year, which assistant superintendent Dave Burgoyne estimated at more than $100,000.