Monday, Nov. 29 is last day to fill out survey asking what should be done in the long term with under and over capacity schools in SD67. (Google Maps)

Monday, Nov. 29 is last day to fill out survey asking what should be done in the long term with under and over capacity schools in SD67. (Google Maps)

Okanagan-Skaha school district looks at what do with facilities in the long term

Facing future enrolment decline, survey asks how to best manage school facilities

Monday, Nov. 29, is your last chance to fill out School District 67’s survey that looks at the long-term plan for its facilities.

According to the district’s website, over the past 20 years, School District No. 67 (Okanagan Skaha) has experienced a significant decline in student enrollment. Between 2001 and 2021, there has been a cumulative decline of more than 1,750 students, with minimal adjustments to school facilities. (However, this year did see an increase in full time students who returned to in class instruction from home learning.)

As public school funding is generated by student enrollment, this has led to significant budget and facility challenges and directly impacts the district’s ability to provide the range of programs and services students’ need, said superintendent of schools Todd Manuel.

In the past three years, more than $3 million in reductions to programs and services for students have been made in order to balance the operating budgets. School capacity has also been identified by external consultants as a significant issue requiring the board’s attention, said Manuel.

Currently, there are no Penticton schools over capacity. Queen’s Park Elementary is expected to grow in the future to full capacity by 2032. In Summerland, Giant’s Head Elementary is over capacity and short three classrooms to accommodate the amount of students. That growth is expected to continue.

Over at Summerland Middle School, they’ve seen a continued enrolment decline and will continue to do so, according to the report Community Demographics and Enrolment.

In February 2021, the board contracted Planning Works, an external consultant, to provide the board with updated demographic and facilities information. The district hasn’t closed a school in some time, said the district. In 2016, the board of the day was going to close Trout Creek, West Bench and McNicoll in Penticton but in the end only closed McNicoll.

READ MORE: Board decides to close 3 schools in 2016

To fill out the survey, click here.

The board of education meeting is Monday, Nov. 29.

READ MORE: Penticton high school students ready for 10,000 Tonight food drive

Editor’s note: In the original article, it indicated that 2021 saw an increase in full time students. In fact, the student population in SD67 didn’t change from 2020 to 2021. However, the district did see a return of 115 students to in class instruction from home learning.