Disagreement resurfaced among School District 83 trustees over a decision to explore a reconfiguration of Salmon Arm schools that includes two high school campuses.
On the agenda for the school board’s Sept. 21 meeting, its first of the 2021/22 school year, was a terms of reference document for a proposed Salmon Arm school zone reconfiguration working group. The document gives the group the following mandate: “To advise the board on all matters related to the implementation of option E5 in principle as outlined in the District’s Long Range Facilities Plan (LRFP) 2020-2029,” as well as several responsibilities, including the provision of a viable timeline, consideration of impacts on transportation, facilities, students and staff, and any and all feeder schools.
E5 was added to the list of remaining options in the LRFP for the reconfiguration of Salmon Arm schools at the board’s meeting on April 20, 2021. In short, it includes Shuswap Middle School continuing with Grades 6 to 8; making both Salmon Arm Secondary schools, Sullivan and Jackson, Grade 9 to 12 campuses; and having all Salmon Arm area elementary schools, including South Canoe School (which is currently Kindergarten to Grade 8), operate as K to Grade 5 schools.
The board voted at its June 15 meeting to support the E5 option in principle. The motion passed 4-1, with Trustee Marty Gibbons opposed.
At the Sept. 21 board meeting, Gibbons raised concern with the language used in the terms of reference, arguing its tone was weighted towards implementation.
“As a trustee I have huge issues with this,” said Gibbons. “The process that took place to get to this point…it was interfered with, as you’ve admitted. E5 was not part of the initial report. I still have major concerns with proceeding on this.”
Board Chair Amanda Krebs and trustee Marianne VanBuskirk both noted the document includes the term “in principle,” reflecting the board’s motion from June.
Trustee Quentin Bruns took exception with Gibbons’ comment.
“I would like to object to Trustee Gibbons characterization of the process as being bought and corrupted, I don’t think that’s very helpful at this point,” said Bruns.
According to the terms of reference, the working group will include a trustee as chair, members of senior leadership staff, as well a representatives from CUPE Local 523, North Okanagan-Shuswap DPAC and PAC members, the First Nations Education Council, the North Okanagan-Shuswap Teachers Association, students and others.
The board voted to adopt the reconfiguration working group terms of reference, with Gibbons opposed.
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