School District #10 board meeting, Oct. 18: All-plaid send-off for long-serving trustee

Long-time trustee Lora Lee Brekke's “penchant for plaid” prompted everyone to show up in plaid shirts to honour her at her last meeting after 17 years of service.

"Lora Lee's experience and knowledge have been a tremendous resource," said Board Chair Christine Dixon. "She has served in many roles on many committees and made lasting connections with people involved in education all over the province."

Brekke will be replaced by Amanda Murphy, who was acclaimed to the position of trustee-at-large in the October 15 local elections.

Daycare to start hiring process

The school district is getting ready to start the hiring process for the new daycare at Nakusp Elementary. SD 10 Human Resources Manager Michelle Grenier is trying to get an idea of how many staff they will be able to hire, as staff levels will determine the number of children they can take.

Grenier plans to put out a request for expressions of interest to determine the number of potential job applicants, with more information to come about the specific credentials needed for the positions. The jobs fall under the jurisdiction of BC's Community Care and Assisted Living Act so candidates will need to meet criteria laid out in the Child Care Licensing Regulation to work in the facility.

The opening of the 96-seat daycare facility is behind schedule after construction and hiring delays. The facility is to be the first such daycare in a BC elementary school, providing care for preschoolers and older children before and after school. In 2020, the district received $3 million in funding from the Province and $150,000 from the Columbia Basin Trust for the project.

Exploring the four-day school week

The school district continues to explore the possibility of a district-wide four-day school week. A motion passed at the October 18 meeting to start the consultation process and solicit feedback from Parent Advisory Councils.

Trustee Stephen Gascon said the four-day week is perfect for areas that are strung out geographically, have challenges with staff recruitment and retention, have a big emphasis on work-life balance and have transportation challenges. "Those are things that really apply to our district," he said.

Both Burton and Edgewood Elementary Schools are already on the four-day school week. Trustee Lora Lee Brekke said the consultation process for those schools took "a long, long, long time," and included meeting with parents, staff and other community members.

Because of the way the full consultation process works, any changes would not be able to take place until the 2024-2025 school year, reported Dubinsky.

New student progress reporting

Superintendent Peter Dubinsky informed the board about the new provincial standards for reporting student progress to parents. The new standards take effect for the 2023-2024 school year.

Much will remain the same for parents in SD #10, Dubinsky said. There will still be the five ‘communication events’ throughout the school year. These include two written learning updates, two flexible learning updates, such as parent-teacher conferences or emails, and a written summary of learning at the end of the term.

Written feedback will be ‘strength based,’ identifying what the student does well and how they can continue to develop skills, and must include student self-assessment and goal setting.

Also, absences and behaviour issues are not to be considered when grading students. They are instead to receive an ‘IE’ for ‘insufficient evidence of learning,’ replacing ‘incomplete’ as a mark.

"If behaviour is a challenge it should not be reflected in their academic assessment," Dubinsky said.

The four-part proficiency scale for K-9 students will not change in SD 10, though it may be new for some districts. Letter grades for students in grades 10-12 remain the same for now, but moving all grades to the proficiency scale at some point will likely be explored.

Parents are also to receive regular updates on how their child is progressing toward graduation in terms of completing required courses and electives. Dubinsky said the goal is to ensure both students and parents are aware of the progress being made to complete graduation requirements.

"So there are no surprises," Dubinsky said.

All students, regardless of ability, will receive learning feedback in the same manner.

The new reporting standards follow the recent shift in the provincial curriculum toward skill development rather than fact retention. The Province calls this a change to "concept-based and competency-driven education."

"There are a lot of skills we want students to be able to do, and less in terms of specific content we want them to know," Dubinsky said. "The focus is what they do with that content – how they process and analyze and create and construct."

Mark Page, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice