Okanagan Skaha eliminates sex education position

School board unwilling to reverse budget-cutting decision despite receiving 320-name petition

Despite mounting criticism, the Okanagan Skaha School District will not reverse course on a budget decision to axe its sole sex-education job.

The position, currently held by Brenda Kroschinsky, will not be filled when she retires at the end of the year, so other staff will be tasked with delivering so-called family life courses.

Grade 10 student Linda Worden delivered a 320-signature petition opposing the cutback to the school board at its Monday night meeting

Worden said regular teachers aren’t equipped to deliver sex education, nor do students want to hear it from them.

“If you expect a student to open up to a teacher they see every day, then you are misguided,” she said.

Superintendent Wendy Hyer replied that it won’t be math and English teachers who deliver the programming, although the staffing arrangement hasn’t yet been formalized.

“That will be discussed with each of the administrators at the various levels around who the best person is to deliver that program,” Hyer said.

Parent Erica McDowell filed a formal appeal asking the board to revisit its May decision, but was shot down.

“At this point, bringing on another person, a new employee, I don’t think there’s an appetite to discuss that at this time,” said board chair Ginny Manning.

She repeated the board’s rationale that budget cuts had to be made somewhere to tame a $1.8 million deficit, and that Kroschinsky’s retirement provided an opportunity to do so without actually putting someone out of work.

“This is one program we knew we could continue, (albeit) looking a little differently,” Manning said, “but the students will receive a family life program.”

The sharpest criticism came in a letter from Penticton Secondary School teacher Lesley Lacroix, who wrote that she is “truly disgusted” with the cutback, which she called “short-sighted, to say the least.”

“I guess I have 15 more years of teaching, and in that time, can expect an increase in teen pregnancy and teen STIs.”

Other letters of opposition were received from the student services team at Summerland Secondary School and the Special Education Association of Okanagan Skaha.

The board was unanimous in its support of the budget, and none of the trustees offered a dissenting opinion Monday on the family life cutback.