Summer holidays are virtually over and it’s back to the books.
Classes resume Tuesday in the North Okanagan-Shuswap School District.
“Every year is a fresh start,” said Glenn Borthistle, superintendent, of students entering new grades and reuniting with their friends.
“It’s an exciting time.”
Firm enrolment figures won’t be known until the end of September, but the district is projecting 5,911 students for 2016/17 — down from 40 last year.
However, that scenario could change.
“The reports from registration at all schools are positive,” said Borthistle.
“We had a family show up in Armstrong with 10 kids. We are encouraged by the reports.”
It’s projected enrolment could be down in Armstrong and Salmon Arm, while it may increase slightly in Enderby and Sicamous.
Fluctuations in enrolment, though, can impact the district financially.
If there are an additional 39 students, the district is removed from the Ministry of Education’s funding protection.
Funding protection doesn’t provide funding for additional students.
“If we are out (of protection), we will receive additional funding per student,” said Borthistle.
While students have been out of class in July and August, schools have been a busy place as regular cleaning is done.
A new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system has also been installed at Hillcrest Elementary while a new library/commons area has been constructed at Carlin Elementary Middle School.
Technology rewiring has also been done at all schools in the school district.
“Our schools couldn’t operate without the good work of our maintenance staff,” said Borthistle.
On tap this year is a new curriculum mandated by the Ministry of Education for kindergarten to Grade 9 (this is a pilot year for Grades 10 to 12).
Students will get hands-on experience in collaboration, critical thinking and communications. The goal is to help students learn by exploring their interests and passions.
“The renewed curriculum focuses on big ideas. The teachers have more flexibility to present those ideas,” said Borthistle.
Also moving into the new school year, district administration will work with trustee Mike McKay to implement the special advisor’s report after the previous board was dismissed by the government.
“We look forward to communicating with our communities,” said Borthistle.