West Kelowna  

School changes a go

Despite opposition from many in attendance Wednesday, School District 23's Board of Education is going ahead with grade reconfiguration for schools on the Westside.

The reconfiguration, which will see elementary schools house students from kindergarten to Grade 5, middle schools Grades 6 to 8, and secondary schools Grades 9 to 12, will take place in September.

The board voted 5-2 in favour, with chair Moyra Baxter and Lake Country representative Deb Butler voting against.

The decision was whether to implement the move in 2018 or 2019.

West Kelowna representative Julia Fraser said it was a tough decision to make, but said finances were an important factor in doing it now, rather than waiting another year.

Fraser says changing the grade configuration in time for the next school year instead of 2019 will save the district a significant amount of money.

"These savings can be used to better the students educationally, and not lay off much needed staff. To put it bluntly, it's a difficult decision to make, but it works out to be $1.85 million," said Fraser.

"That is something I cannot disregard as a trustee."

Without those savings, she says the board would have been facing program and staff cuts. Fraser says it works out to the equivalent of about 25 staff members.

The need to proceed now is caused by the pressure being put on schools feeding into Constable Neil Bruce Middle School.

Fraser says those schools are "essentially full."

"To relieve pressure, we need to take those leaving Grade 5 out of the elementary schools, and the students graduating from Grade 8 from CNB to Mount Boucherie."

Grade 9 students will remain at Glenrosa Middle school for another school year while portables begin moving to Boucherie.

Fraser says two portables a year will be going to the high school to a maximum of eight or nine.

"I understand it is a short timeline, but it's not much shorter than the timeline we used to successfully reconfigure the RSS family of schools," she said.

"I want to stress the staff have experience rolling this out in this time frame. I would have been very hesitant as a trustee if we hadn't done it before."

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