- BC Games
Whole lot going on as schools get set to reopen
School District 79 staff feels it’s done its homework during the summer and is well-prepared to open the book on a new chapter in the local education system following the restructuring process.
Extensive groundwork kept employees busy throughout July and August to make sure everything was ready for the opening of schools Tuesday in a new-look district.
To refresh your memory, the district has gone to an elementary K-7 and secondary 8-12 model.
“We’re really excited about getting past the uncertainty stage and getting to Sept. 3,’’ said superintendent Joe Rhodes. “We think we’re as well-prepared as we can.
“There’s so many things we’re excited about getting started and we hope seeing positive moves forward. We need to get going and that’s what I’m waiting for.’’
A.B. Greenwell, Yount, Koksilah, Somenos and Ecole Mill Bay elementary facilities were closed and there’s been a considerable shuffling of students. Instituting bus fees ranging from $200 to $400 per family has also required major work preparing schedules.
Rhodes said bus registration is typically between 2,500 and 2,800 and he expects the numbers for 2013-14 to be at the high end.
“As far as I know, it’s kind of a normal year in terms of registration,’’ he said. “But we won’t know till next week.’’
On top of that, the actual work inside the schools from maintenance and building personnel to get everything ready has been extensive.
“Our crews really did a yeoman’s service to get us to where we are Tuesday,’’ said secretary-treasurer Bob Harper. “All of our staff have been moved into their new facilities.’’
The district did not want to have a lot of renovation and construction work still going on when school starts.
“One that came to mind if you keep doing things the same way you’ll get the same result so we’ve done things quite differently. It was a real opportunity for us to try things differently with our staff, ’’ said Director of Operations Monroe Grobe. “We had bus drivers and custodians just give it 110% all summer long. It’s exciting to see what was accomplished.’’
Mount Prevost and George Bonner schools were the big tasks, Grobe said.
Work included wrapping up the Spooksville TV series filming, which provided some challenges. Bonner and Frances Kelsey were also used as sets for a Disney movie. Shooting just wrapped up at Bonner this week.
“Something completely new and not something I would recommend throwing into a summer like we’ve had,’’ said Grobe.
The district is most proud of the evolution of the old Koksilah elementary school site into the Koksilah Trades Training Centre.
“Right now if you went over there, you would say there’s no way you’re going to start courses down there on Tuesday,’’ said Ron Nunweiler, District Principal of Careers and Distributed Education.
But there will be heating and ventilation, and welding programs starting, with hairdressing, carpentry and much more to follow soon.
“In a nutshell, it’s rolling along,’’ said Nunweiler. “We’re pretty excited about it.’’
Official trustee Mike McKay said those completing the programs will have an opportunity to step into some of the high-paying jobs that are becoming more in demand and they won’t be carrying heavy student loan debt.
“It’ll be a lighthouse for the valley, it’ll be a lighthouse for the province,’’ said McKay.
The district still needs to sort out how services may need to be tailored to the exact number of students who show up to classes next week.
“We’ll use the September month as a transition month as that whole attendance issue settles down,’’ said Harper.