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Kelowna  

Ministry pulls Waldorf funds

A year after dozens of students left the Kelowna Waldorf School, the provincial government has pulled its funding for the school.

The independent school, which teaches children up to Grade 8, dealt with political infighting among its Board of Trustees and parents last school year, resulting in the exodus of students.

Several parents of former students have since come forward with concerns about the academic deficits they've seen in their children since leaving the school, despite Waldorf report cards that said they were on track.

The Ministry of Education informed the Kelowna Waldorf School this week that as a result of a ministry inspection on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 of this year, the school's government funding will be pulled.

“The ministry has determined Kelowna Waldorf School is not meeting legislated requirements around curricular compliance and delivery of the B.C. curriculum,” said Sean Leslie, communications manager with the Ministry of Education.

As a result of the inspection, the government has reclassified the Kelowna Waldorf School from a Group 1 Independent School to a Group 3 Independent school.

“Group 1 schools are required to deliver the B.C. curriculum,” Leslie said. “This means KWS will no longer be eligible for provincial funding unless they amend their program to meet requirements and pass a further inspection to verify compliance.”

Group 1 schools must maintain "an evaluation program that ... demonstrates student progress in achieving intellectual, human, social and career development" and comply with the "instructional time and program requirements determined by the Minister." Group 3 schools do not. 

Rick Salsa, president of the Kelowna Waldorf School's Board of Trustees, says he anticipates the school will be able to fulfill the ministry's requirements by their re-inspection early next year and be reinstated as a Group 1 school before losing out on any provincial funding. 

"We have met those requirements since we were established in 1981 and we are proud of our successful integration of the provincial curriculum with our unique Waldorf pedagogy," Salsa said in an email. 

He said the school's teachers are undergoing "professional development" this week, with the assistance of the province's Independent Schools Branch. 

The Kelowna Waldorf School received $502,574 in provincial funding over the 2016/17 school year. 

During that year, the ministry conducted three inspections of the school "in response to concerns raised by the school community."

In October 2017, Leslie said the school had complied with all ministry requests for "adjustments to programs and reporting" as a result of those inspections. 



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