Budget brings focus on closure

The proposed closing of Tuc-el-Nuit school in Oliver was unanimously seen by School District 53 trustees as one of the few options to cut their budget without much disturbance.

The proposed closing of Tuc-el-Nuit school in Oliver was unanimously seen by School District 53 trustees as one of the few options to cut their budget without much disturbance.

“I would have to say that of all of the four recommendations that were put forward to us, this is one of the most reasonable ones,” said Oliver trustee Tamela Edwards. “While I understand and have seen first hand the close community of Tuc-el-Nuit, I have to admit it is extravagant in our district, under present financial pressures, to continue to support two elementary schools in one community.”

School District 53 trustees are looking at options to help face a potential $875,843 deficit next year after learning the Ministry of Education has cutback on funding protection. Amalgamating Tuc-el-Nuit with Oliver Elementary School was one of four recommendations that received unanimous support from trustees to take to the next level in discussion. It is estimated $385,326 could be saved through the amalgamation. Both the principals at Tuc-el-Nuit and Oliver Elementary declined to make any comment on the issue.

“If we didn’t have a budget crisis we wouldn’t even be considering it, but we do have a budget crisis and this is a logical move,” said Keremeos trustee Myrna Coates.

The proposal in the SD53 capital plan notes some of the positives of amalgamating the schools, including putting all students in one school in Oliver, providing a broader scope of learning opportunities for students, especially for elective areas such as band and music, utilizing teacher expertise in specialized areas more effectively, increasing extracurricular opportunities, and exploring educational learning synergies between South Okanagan Secondary School and Oliver Elementary.

“When I look at the options presented to us this one appears to be the least painful or perhaps the most seamless as far as a fit. We wouldn’t be depriving any student of any educational experience or causing increased hardship to a community as far as travel,” said Oliver trustee Michael Petersen, who suggested the school district exploring keeping maintenance of the soccer fields at Tuc-el-Nuit.

Some of the challenges the proposal outlines includes the need for two portables for StrongStrart and perhaps preschool or Grades 6 and 7s. The proposal also states it would be a very tight fight if the schools amalgamate. As it stands there are 190 students at Tuc-el-Nuit and 262 in Oliver Elementary School — that adds up to two students over the Oliver Elementary capacity of 450 students. A future growth plan potential shows Oliver Elementary would require a capital plan inclusion for a four-classroom addition.

There are also several assumptions in the proposal around savings and it states about $9,700 per year would be saved in minimal heat/light, ground and maintenance costs at Tuc-el-Nuit. A conservative estimate shows that one principal, one teacher and one clerical or library position could be reduced, with a small increase in administration time at Oliver Elementary.

“I can’t cut anymore as far as staff, support staff or maintenance staff. I think we are at the limit in my opinion. We have to make some decisions. I became a trustee to make sure students have a proper educational environment and choices. I think we need to discuss this further in the community to see if this will work or will not work,” said Okanagan Falls trustee Sam Hancheroff.

“Our hands are tied. If you don’t have the money you have to do something, and I want to make sure whatever I am involved in is not going to affect the ability of a child to get a proper education at any level. If that means they have to walk a little bit farther I will live with that, but I will not look at laying off more of our staff or our support staff because those are the people that are very important to a child’s education.”

The school board plans on discussing how and when public consultation will take place at the next board meeting on Feb. 23. That information will be then relayed to the public.

Just Posted

(Facebook)
New trial date set in Penticton for Thomas Kruger-Allen’s triple assault charges

May trial was delayed after Crown witnesses failed to show up

A for sale sign is shown in by new homes in Beckwith, Ont., just outside Ottawa, on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Thompson-Okanagan population grew despite COVID-19: report

The Chartered Professional Accountants of BC said there are 8,462 new residents in the region

Scales of Justice
Acquittal in Okanagan crash that killed vacationing dentist

Daerio Romeo, 29, was charged with dangerous driving causing death and bodily harm

Renderings of what the skating rink could look like beside City Hall between Martin and Main in downtown Penticton. (Activate Penticton image)
Penticton to get outdoor ice rink this winter

It’s hoped the rink will be ready to host 2022 BCHL’s 60th year celebration

The fate of Skaha Marina and its operations will be decided Saturday, June 19 on general election day. (File photo)
Penticton city hosted last forum before voters decide on fate of Skaha Marina

Residents share concerns about length of operations agreement, parking and control of park

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Vernon-Monashee NDP MLA Harwinder Sandhu supported a motion in the B.C. legislature for Canada to create a national Indigenous History month Monday, June 13, 2021. (Contributed)
Canada needs a national Indigenous History Month, Vernon MLA agrees

Harwinder Sandhu supports motion to recognize June as month to advance reconciliation efforts with First Nations

Orange ribbons are tied to the fence outside Vernon’s Gateway Homeless Shelter on 33rd Street. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
POLL: Low-key Canada Day in the works for Vernon

Councillor calling for Indigenous recognition for 2022

A conceptual design of Vernon’s new Active Living Centre, which will go to referendum Oct. 15, 2022. (Rendering)
Active living centre 2022 referendum planned in Vernon

City hoping to get Coldstream and Areas B and C back on board

Closure of the 2900 block of 30th Avenue will allow restaurants and other businesses to extend their patios onto the street. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Green light given to downtown Vernon road closure

Single block of 30th Avenue to close over summer months to boost business

Graduating Grade 12 student Savannah Lamb has been awarded an approximate $40,000 scholarship from the Beedie Luminaries foundation. (Contributed)
Dedicated Salmon Arm student earns scholarship to pursue post-secondary education

Savannah Lamb is graduating from Salmon Arm Secondary with a $40,000 scholarship

A provided photo of the suspect. (Kelowna RCMP/Contributed)
Kelowna RCMP investigating after business robbed

An undisclosed amount of money and merchandise were taken from the business

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

Most Read