SD51 talks middle school, finances and student exchange with Quebec at Dec. 11 meeting

School District 51 (SD51) board trustees and staff discussed the topic of middle schools during the Dec. 11 school board meeting.

Hutton Elementary School teacher Claire Naylor and Grand Forks Secondary School (GFSS) teacher Sean Anderson discuss their trip to Aldergrove to look at the middle school system during a School District 51 school board meeting on Dec. 11.

School District 51 (SD51) board trustees and staff discussed the topic of middle schools during the Dec. 11 school board meeting.

Hutton Elementary School teacher Claire Naylor and Grand Forks Secondary School (GFSS) teacher Sean Anderson were amongst nine other teachers who visited in Aldergrove, B.C. to look at the middle school system earlier this month.

Paid by the district, teachers spent the weekend Dec. 8 and 9 at Betty Gilbert Middle School to look at the middle school model and to determine whether it would work in Grand Forks. Teachers were unable to attend last year due to ongoing job action.

The trip itself cost the district $5,500.

Both teachers returned from the trip with positive impressions of the middle school format, which would resemble the proximity of what the schools in Grand Forks would change into. Perley Elementary School would switch to a middle school for Grades 6 to 8, while GFSS would remain as high school from Grades 9 to 12.

Naylor noted the middle school had an elementary school feel and was very orderly.

“Another great thing about it is it’s kids focused and based,” she said. “It is an elementary school where people see you and recognize your talents. The school is very, very personal and it feels very homey. The child is really respected. They aren’t lost in a crowd and it’s not too big for them.”

The main issue raised was the amount of accessible resources available to the Aldergrove schools in comparison to Grand Forks, Anderson pointed out.

“This system works really well in Aldergrove but they also have access to the resources to really put all the building blocks were they need to put them to really make it work,” he added.

The teachers will be presenting their thoughts about the middle school system to their colleagues, and the information gathered by teachers will be included in the board’s decision-making process.

The school board will be discussing the middle school system on Tuesday, Feb. 12 at its regular board meeting in the school board office in Grand Forks.

Quebec exchange

A plan is in the works for Grade 10 and 11 GFSS students taking French class to participate in an exchange program.

Teacher David Reimer is organizing the trip and is applying to the Society for Educational Visits and Exchanges Canada (SEVEC), a national non-profit organization, for an exchange with a francophone group in Quebec next fall.

SEVEC will cover most of the costs of the trip through funds from Heritage Canada, though a $50 application and $50 individual student application fee will need to be submitted if the application is accepted.

Participants will begin fundraising this year to cover the costs of activities when the partner school visits Grand Forks.

SD51 finances

Secretary-treasurer Jeanette Hanlon noted an update on the 2012/2014 school budget in the January board meeting (Tuesday, Jan 8, 2013).  The amended budget will need to be approved by the school board at Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013 board meeting or latest by Feb. 28.

New buses purchased

Board trustees passed the Capital Project Bylaw No. 114932 for four new school buses.

SD51 has received funding for the purchase of four new school buses as part of a $14 million investment by the Province of British Columbia.

The school district will receive $540,523 for the four buses, which was requested in the district’s five-year plan.

As previously mentioned, in order to qualify for a replacement bus from the government, the bus needs to be on a regular school route and have met or exceeded criteria regarding age and distance driven. For a 78 to 84 passenger bus, it has to be 15 years old or driven 400,000 kilometres. For a 24 to 72 passenger bus, it has to be at least 12 years old or driven 325,000 kilometres, and for a minibus, at least 10 years old or driven 250,000 kilometres.

Hanlon noted now that the bylaw has been passed, the buses could be purchased.

She added the buses would most likely arrive later next year.

Board representatives for 2013

Board trustees have elected Teresa Rezansoff to remain as board chair for 2013.

Trustees also elected Cathy Riddle as provincial councilor for the British Columbia School Trustees Association, with trustees Dave Reid as the alternate. Trustee Cindy Strukoff was elected as the representative to the British Columbia Public School Employer’s Association, with trustee Ken Harshenin as the alternate.

For the Okanagan Labor Relations Council, which is the delegated bargaining authority and labour management activities for the Okanagan, Reid was elected as the representative, with Hanlon as the alternative.

The next SD51 school board meeting will be on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013 at the Boundary Learning Centre in Midway at 6 p.m.

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