Plans to open a daycare at an elementary school in Nakusp – the first of its kind in the province – have been set back by construction problems and staffing complications.
“We are unfortunately not yet able to operationalize the centre for various reasons,” SD 10 Superintendent Peter Dubinsky wrote in a report that was brought to the September 20 meeting of the school board. “However, and despite continued setbacks including construction deficiencies, delivery delays and other unforeseen circumstances, our team continues to work steadfastly and remain committed to bringing the Centre to completion…”
The report says they hope to open the facility “as soon as possible,” but gave no timeline.
In 2020, the district received about $3 million from the province, and $150,000 from the Columbia Basin Trust, to build a 96-seat daycare for both pre-school and before- and after-care for school-aged children in Nakusp. The project saw the construction of an addition to Nakusp Elementary that houses the pre-school children in a separate space, but one that’s integrated into the school system.
There are two main problems facing the daycare’s completion, Dubinsky says in his report.
One was construction – which went smoothly for the most part, but bogged down in deficiencies during inspections in May.
“Construction deficiencies are not uncommon with any new build; however, there were some challenges in rallying the necessary trades in consideration that summer is a peak time for the industry,” he said. “We continue to work diligently on the finishing touches of the interior of the centre and are nearing completion.”
The second issue is staffing. This is the first daycare to be fully integrated into the school system – the unionized school system. Turns out no classifications, pay scales, or other rules are outlined in the existing CUPE agreements for positions like early childhood educators, infant-toddler educators and responsible adults. And as it’s the first of its kind, what happens at SD#10 will have huge impacts on every other district, making the negotiations something neither side wants to mis-step.
“We appreciate our good working relationship and look forward to the continued conversations regarding staffing,” he says in the report.
It’s all been a lot for the little school district to manage, and they’ve been able to get extra funding from the Province to ensure the rollout of the project is done properly. The district has received special funding to hire a new vice-principal for Nakusp Elementary. Tim Van Brummelen will act as the district lead for the child care centre, working to get the centre up and running and overseeing the initial day-to-day operations.
In the meantime, the district has set up a Facebook page to keep the community abreast of the situation, and is developing an ‘expression of interest’ form for parents who will want to access the program. Interested parents or people seeking more information can also contact the district through the email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice