• Superintendent Terry Taylor opened her report to Arrow Lakes School District 10’s board of trustees with a headline that’s getting to be a regular item: the district’s enrolment is going up.
“Slow but steady,” is how Taylor described it to the board. The district saw a net increase of four students in the last month. Six new students were added to the Distant Learning program, and two more to Nakusp Elementary’s enrolment. However, two students left both Edgewood Elementary and Nakusp Secondary, making for the net increase of four.
• After five years of hard work and navigating the labyrinth of property sale procedures, SD 10 staff have seen some progress in their plan to sell the old school property in Fauquier to the community.
“Amidst many delays exacerbated by the pandemic, slow and steady progress on the Fauquier School property file has been made,” Taylor told the board. “Application was approved by the Ministry of Transportation and the Agricultural Land Commission to subdivide the property into two lots in the fall –these are significant milestones.”
In a process that began in 2015, the board committed to sell one building lot at a “modest price” to the community of Fauquier, while the second lot will be put up for sale at market value.
“Hopefully we’ll make enough back to cover the cost of the subdivision,” Taylor said, only half-joking.
It doesn’t mean the land sale will happen right away. Taylor says their application is sitting with the Ministry of Education for its approval as per the School Act. The final review period ends February 28, “at which point district staff anticipate good news,” she told the board.
Taylor credited Assistant Secretary-Treasurer Shelly Woolf for her work and RDCK Director Paul Peterson for his “unwavering support” for the project.
• Things are getting shuffled around at the Burton Community Learning Centre.
The community school has seen an absolute renaissance in recent years, thanks to young families moving into the area. In recognizing the new need for space, the BCLC has moved its gym and fitness equipment out of the school building.
Taylor says both increased enrolment pressures at Burton School and pandemic constraints prompted the group to move its equipment out.
There are three classrooms at Burton School with one classroom currently in use for a primary class, and the second for intermediate students. The third classroom, recently vacated by Burton Community Learning Centre, is being used for Strong Start programming.
The classroom pressure is a far cry from the dark days of 2012, when only a handful of students remained at Burton Elementary, prompting its closure. It proved only temporary, however, and Taylor credits the BCLC for taking care of the building and maintaining it during the downtime.
She says BCLC will continue with shared use of the school library and Burton Reading Centre.
• Plenty of daycare news for the district as well. Taylor reported that the final architectural drawings have been completed for the Nakusp Child Care Centre by district architects, engineers and consultants.
The Request for Proposals – the official call-out for contractors to bid on the project – should be ready by late February.
“The project is proceeding on time, albeit with minor adjustments to the schedule, and is on budget,” reported Taylor.
Meanwhile, operations at the newly opened Goat Mountain Child Care Centre in New Denver are going well, says Taylor, with qualified staff serving the needs of a growing number of young children and families. Some final tweaks to the construction job are being completed now, which has set back the final reconciliation of the project for funders. But Taylor says, “The project remains within budget and a beautiful child care centre… has been created.” There’s no word on when the official opening will take place, thanks to COVID.
Taylor wrapped up her update on the child care service by noting the NDP government plans to move delivery of child care to the Ministry of Education by 2023. “All current and future Shared Use Agreements with non-profit childcare providers will comply with forthcoming Board Policy and the School Act,” she noted.
• The massive wind storm that passed through the area on January 13 caused some damage to Nakusp Elementary playground structures, closing schools for the day and snarling buses with downed trees – but thankfully no one was hurt. The NES forest play area and the damaged area of the playground are currently out of bounds and cordoned off while an assessment of trees on NES and all school properties is conducted.
• And Taylor ended her report with another dollop of good news. Based on September enrolment numbers, which were much higher than projected, the district’s operating grant increased to $8,896,161 – about $760,229 higher than projected.
There may be more adjustments upward to that, as new students still trickle into the district, especially for distance learning.
John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice