It was a bittersweet moment for School District 10 trustees and staff as Superintendent Terry Taylor delivered her last report to the board on June 15, after eight years of leading the district and more than 38 working in it.
But Taylor peppered her final report with plenty of good news.
New VP at NSS
Nakusp’s high school is going to have a new second-in-command in the fall.
Jaime Sing has been selected to take on the role of vice principal at Nakusp Secondary School.
Taylor said Sing has served for the past year as head teacher at NSS and “performed many of the functions of school leadership” when the principal was away.
She added her hire is another sign the district’s policy of developing leadership from within is paying off.
“It’s just really exciting when somebody within the district exemplifies that leadership potential and strength,” says Taylor. “We had a strong competition and Jaime was certainly the most well-suited candidate, and we are very excited to see her stay in the district and do this work.”
Fauquier sale eases forward
They say it’s not over until the paperwork is done – and that’s certainly true of a plan to sell off some unneeded property in the district.
After five years of work, the light may be at the end of the tunnel for subdividing the Fauquier School property into two lots.
In November 2020, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure granted final approval on the subdivision. Unfortunately, the next step in the process has taken months to get underway.
Finally, in mid-April, MOTI got the documentation up online for the required 90-day public review period.
“This has been a very long process – more than five years! One day soon, it will be done, but not quite yet, and not for want of trying!,” Taylor reported to the board.
Taylor said they hope the final approval will be granted by July.
The board plans to divide the former school property into two lots and complete the work to ensure the school building lot remains for use by the community of Fauquier .The second lot will be sold off, with proceeds going into district reserves.
Burton logging access
Residents of Burton will have their chance next week to weigh in on a logging company’s request to access their logging area through the district’s property in Burton.
A public meeting on Stella-Jones’ request to have road access for their logging operation from Burton School grounds will be held in the community on July 7.
The logging company has rights to log in the area, but a route through a corner of the Burton school property offers the best access for some blocks. The board would receive a “modest” fee for granting the access, Taylor says.
The board has already put a call-out for public comment, and has received four letters in response – only one opposed.
Taylor says the intent of the public consultation is not to consult on whether logging proceeds or not, which is not in the board’s purview.
“Stella-Jones has a right to log the property surrounding the school district’s, which includes a number of watershed areas, so whether the district grants access through its property or not, the logging is going to continue. That’s not up to the school district, that’s an agreement between a logging company and the government,” says Taylor. “We are consulting with our community and public in whether it is in the public interest for that property to potentially afford road access.”
The July 7 meeting will be held at the gym in the Burton School at 7 pm. The board will collect the information and write a report for trustees. They’ll come to a decision on whether to grant the access across their property at a special meeting on July 22.
The school district has had to reimburse the Ministry of Education for students it received double the funding for during the pandemic.
“Across the province, due to the large number of students transferring from brick and mortar schools to DL [Distance Learning] schools across the province during the pandemic, some students were inadvertently claimed for funding twice,” says Taylor.
In SD 10, they counted five students twice for both the high school and distance program. That has the ministry clawing back $15,000 from the district.
Reserve funding for buses
The district’s trustees have decided to be a bit conservative with their purchase of three new school buses for the district.
Announced last month, the district plans to buy three electric buses. But they had to decide how to pay for them.
Rather than borrowing money, they’ve opted to use the district’s healthy capital reserve fund to pay for the vehicles. It was tempting though, as the Province is offering districts low-interest loans for e-bus purchases. The new buses will help the district meet its carbon-reduction targets.
In the end, the trustees voted to use their reserves from the sale of an old property 20 years ago to buy the vehicles.
“All three buses have been ordered, and the board… felt that they could approve it unanimously,” says Taylor. “Part of the board’s rationale, was, rather than this very low-interest loan… it was preferable not to be borrowing money.”
The board set aside $200,000 in capital reserves to fund up to three electric buses, though the final bill is expected to be somewhat under that amount.
The school district is looking for parents willing to host international students in the new school year.
After COVID put the International Education Program on hiatus in 2020, the district is again partnering with School District 8 Kootenay Lake to host up to five students from Italy and Germany in the new school year.
SD 8 will recruit the international students, market the program abroad and also hire a local homestay coordinator.
The district held a Zoom meeting on June 17 for interested parents. Families will be paid $900 a month for providing room and board and a great place to call home for our international students.
Farewell to Taylor
How do you summarize nearly 40 years of working in the education system in the Arrow Lakes region? How about with a quote from Winnie the Pooh?
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard,” wrote Taylor in her final item in her final superintendent’s report to the board.
Taylor is retiring after 38 years with the district, the last eight being the leader of the district. She’s being replaced by her assistant superintendent, Peter Dubinsky.
Looking back on her career, Taylor says she’s proud of her accomplishments, especially in working to meet the SD 10 motto, ‘World Class Learning in a Rural Environment.’
Taylor told the Valley Voice she’s happy with how she’s leaving the district.
“I feel honestly I am leaving the district in incredibly good hands,” she says. “Peter will do a great job as my successor. And we’re in incredibly good shape – financial shape, policies and protocols, all the things we have accomplished together as a team.
“It’s bittersweet. I love the school district and this space. I will miss a lot of the magic of what happens in K-12.”
Taylor also gave a glimpse of her life post-SD 10: she’ll be mentoring and coaching at Vancouver Island University’s Masters in Education Leadership program, and working at the West Kootenay Teacher Education Program of UBC – something she’s been doing for over a decade. She’s also finishing off her doctorate, so she’ll be quite busy.
Taylor’s last day with the school district is July 30.
John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice