Why is the district considering a K to 7 neighbourhood elementary school and 8 to 12 secondary school configuration?
The majority of B.C. public school districts operate within a K to 7 and 8 to 12 structure. School Calendar Regulations prescribe different minimum hours of instruction for Kindergarten, Grades 1 to 7, and Grades 8 to 12, distinctions which naturally align with the proposed configuration. Further, as evidenced through public consultation, there is overwhelming support for this model. Feedback received highlighted social/emotional and educational benefits of eliminating a middle years school transition.
We have heard that the French Immersion program is being cut, is this true?
It is the intention of the district to review the provision of French programs given a desire for K-7 and 8-12 configuration. Staff have identified a need to take a closer look at French language programs to evaluate program delivery, determine if and how programs can be sustained, and ensure equitable access for all SD64 students. This means that French programming might look different in the future.
What will happen to students currently enrolled in French Immersion?
Ensuring a smooth transition for students is a priority of the Board. Any changes considered to the French Immersion program would not be implemented until the 2021-2022 school year. Possible options for program transition may look like, but not are limited to:
- the program continues for current French Immersion students to completion
- multi-grade classes/courses to ensure sustainable class size at secondary school
- implementation of an alternative program that serves students whose primary goal is to become fluent in the French language (K-12 French Programs Comparison)
- supporting continuity of enrolment into late immersion
- a combination of the above strategies
What will happen to GISPA, MySEEC, and other specialty programs?
As with French Immersion, the proposal is to take a closer look at how programs could be sustained as student enrollment declines and to assess equity of access for all SD64 students. Any changes to be considered would not take effect until the 2021/2022 school year. Creating a framework for program assessment allows for appraisal through the lenses of quality, sustainability, and purpose.
When will the district share financial information?
Monthly financial reports are made public at most regularly scheduled Board meetings, while past and current approved Annual Budgets and Financial Statements are posted on the district’s website (https://sd64.bc.ca/finance/). To support the Board in the decision-making process around possible reconfiguration options, district senior staff have been directed to research a variety of considerations over the summer months. Detailed financial information, related to these considerations, will be included in a public presentation in September 2020.
When will there be further consultation?
Following the initial Board motion in October 2018, the Board of Education engaged in a lengthy consultation process including an email campaign, public community gatherings on each island and the well-populated Thoughtexchange platform. This consultation period ended in December 2019, concluding Phase 1 of the configuration review process. Phase 2 began, in the new year, with the creation of a special working committee representing all partner groups including students, to review, sort, and prioritize feedback into themes for the Board’s consideration. The Scope of Opportunities, identified by staff, is founded in the Feedback Review Committee’s Final Report. At the June 2020 public Board Meeting, the Board directed staff to further research each option presented for financial and operational feasibility. This research will be presented publicly in September 2020. Information regarding Phase 1 and 2 of Configuration Review has been shared at public Board meetings, with partner delegates (CUPE, DPAC, GITA, PVPA) and on the district website (sd64.bc.ca/).
How is future enrollment predicted?
Future enrollment is considered by looking at each cohort of students that are currently registered in our school district and through data collection from local childcare providers, early education programs and local birth rates. While the Ministry of Education provides enrollment projections, our efforts have also concentrated on current contextual data from local sources. Future configuration changes need to provide for a range of enrollment possibilities that accommodate a reduction, growth, or stable student enrollment. (Ministry Projected Enrollment Report, March 2020)
If the middle school is closed, what are the plans for the students who are entering Grade 6 in September?
If the middle school is closed, students will not be expected to return to elementary school. A single cohort of Gr 7’s would have a transition year that provides access to parts of the building that can operate as a small school for the 2021-2022 year. At the end of the year, those students would transition into GISS.
Is School District 64 funded the same as other districts in the province?
Yes. In fact, the Ministry of Education completed a comprehensive review of funding in March 2020. SD64 receives funding based on a provincial funding model that is applied to all school districts in the province. The funding model is based on student enrollment, unique student needs and the unique geographic location of districts.
How does the district budget affect the configuration review?
The current configuration requires SD64 to overspend its annual enrollment-based revenue by 1.0 million dollars. Due to declining enrollment, the Ministry of Education has provided Funding Protection to allow the district to adjust spending over a period of years. Funding Protection will be reduced by 1.5% per year until revenue aligns with actual enrollment. Our current configuration does not allow us to make the necessary adjustments. As we work to reconfigure our district for the best educational outcomes, we need to also ensure long-term financial stability and reduce annual spending by 1.0 to 1.6 million dollars. Although a reduction in spending of a 1.0 million would allow us to break-even, it is insufficient to account for annual cost increases, unforeseen events or unexpected opportunities. Senior staff believe that education is best delivered in a stable and predictable environment that allows for flexibility around opportunities and surprises.
How is an Outer Island Hub representative of the Board’s efforts to support the best educational outcomes for students and maximize cost-effective education delivery?
Feedback gathered during the configuration review consultation phase indicated a strong desire to provide increased opportunity for students on Galiano, Mayne, Pender and Saturna. The re-establishment of an outer island hub will allow for increased programming at grades 8 and 9 while taking advantage of the quality infrastructure in place on Pender Island. Water taxi ridership pressures related to student population prevents offering service to courtesy riders for the 2020-21 school year and beyond. It is not feasible or environmentally responsible to engage an additional water taxi.
What does an Outer Island Hub mean for students living on Galiano, Mayne, Pender and Saturna?
The establishment of a Pender Islands School hub would allow outer island students in Grades 8 and 9 to access programming that cannot be provided at small island neighbourhood schools. Given the student population as well as fiscal and environmental barriers associated with water taxi transportation, an outer island hub can provide increased programming for those who choose to live on Galiano, Mayne, Pender or Saturna. Students in Grade 9 would have the option to continue their graduation program at Pender Islands School or chose to transition to Gulf Islands Secondary School in Grades 10, 11 or 12.
Why is the configuration process continuing during a pandemic?
Although the global pandemic has changed the way education services are delivered for a short time, our work continues. Similarly, the post consultation work around configuration review continues as staff research the scope of opportunities through an educationally sound and fiscally responsible lens.