Jordan Warner (left) and Philip Marshall of Kleanza Construction install skirting and ramps on the Skeena Middle School portables on Aug. 27.

School board sets out priorities

With schools opening today, the school board is readying its agenda, albeit in a climate less volatile than last year

With schools opening today, the school board is readying its agenda, albeit in a climate less volatile than last year, which was fraught with labour disputes and teacher job action.

“The district is looking forward to a peaceful start because we have a contract in place,” said Coast Mountain School District chair Art Erasmus.

The district’s priorities at the top of the year are centered around enrolment and making sure class sizes meet contract obligations, he said.

“That’s always a challenge every year,” Erasmus said.

There are always students who enrolled in school over the summer who don’t show up, and new students turning up on the first day who still need to be enrolled, he said.

The first few weeks are always focussed on the reorganization of classes.

Once classes are reorganized, the district will release enrolment numbers.

“The proof in the pudding will be on Sept. 30,” said Erasmus.

“We are estimating [based on last year’s end-of-year numbers] that the number of kids is down very slightly.”

Another district priority is making sure the district’s two new middle schools, Terrace’s Skeena Middle School and Kitimat’s Mount Elizabeth Middle School, start the year off smoothly.

“The kids usually adapt quite easily,” said Erasmus. “And the middle schools’ administrators have done a great job in communicating to parents and students what to expect.”

Last year saw the closure of Thornhill Junior Secondary, and questions still remain on whether or not the gym will be able to be used as a community space.

“The school district is keen and willing to work with the community to have the facility available for recreation,” said Erasmus.

“But not at the district’s cost.”

Community groups who use the space are currently in the process of figuring out whether or not they can raise the funds to keep using the gym, but at this time the space is still closed.

Another lingering agenda item is the search for a new superintendent.

Superintendent Nancy Wells’ contract was extended a year beyond her initial term to enable her to keep her post until the end of the school year in 2013.

“Timeline-wise, we would like to have a new superintendent in place sometime in the spring for a couple of months of overlap,” he said, noting the district still had to have discussions around where and how to look for Wells’ replacement.