The SD 10 (Arrow Lakes) board is taking the next steps in exploring a district-wide four-day week for next school year.
The board has met with each school’s Parent Advisory Council (PAC) and with the Partner Group Advisory Committee to initiate consultation with them about the possibility. Public consultation sessions will take place at each school from October to December, and surveys will be distributed to partner groups in November and December.
The board will consider all feedback before making its final decision at the January 16, 2024 public board meeting. A four-day week would begin in the 2024-2025 school year.
There has been talk of the shorter week around the board table over the years. It came up again in January 2022, but the discussion was tabled until now.
“Once we completed our new strategic plan, the board thought that it was appropriate to then pursue a fulsome consultation process around the concept of the four-day week,” said Superintendent Peter Dubinsky.
Two schools in the district – Burton Elementary and Edgewood Elementary – already operate on a four-day week.
The Ministry of Education requires schools to offer a set amount of instructional time per year. If SD 10 adopts the four-day week for all of its schools, timetables would be adjusted to make up for the lost hours.
“Overall, we would be looking at about an hour added to each day,” said Dubinsky. “This would be split between the morning and afternoon.”
Lunch hours and recesses would also be adjusted. Due to bussing schedules and elementary/secondary school differences, each school would have a slightly different timetable.
As the board gets closer to its decision, it will share example schedules with the public.
Draft strategic plan unveiled
Superintendent Dubinsky was pleased to present the draft of the district’s new five-year strategic plan.
The planning process gave the board the opportunity to refocus its goals and values, and to consult with the community.
“Our purpose: to build a collaborative community of learning, including strong academics, overall well-being, and a connection to the land, in order to provide our students with the knowledge and skills they require to navigate an ever-changing future,” the plan reads.
Dubinsky explained that the board wanted to create a plan that will support students so they are ready for an ever-changing future.
“What are some of the best ways to support our school community to achieve greater wellness and resiliency to challenges that exist today?” Dubinsky said, demonstrating the board’s use of general inquiry to develop the plan.
The district held in-person sessions with partner groups and school communities, and gathered feedback online. It also consulted with the Indigenous Education Advisory Committee. The result is a plan with four priority areas: competency, health, collaboration, and environment.
“These [areas] are what have emerged over a year’s worth of discussion and consultation,” said Dubinsky.
The final plan is expected to be adopted at the November meeting, after feedback is invited on the draft up until November 2. The board will go over all input and feedback received, and revise the plan accordingly. Then, it will develop an annual implementation plan and provide regular updates.
The draft plan is available at www.sd10.bc.ca
New and improved website
While reviewing the new strategic plan, the SD 10 community can also check out the new and improved district website.
“We’re quite pleased with both the look and the functionality of the website,” said Dubinsky.
The board hopes to create better communication and accessibility with the new user-friendly interface. The website has been optimized for all users on all platforms: desktop computers, tablets, smartphones, and other mobile devices.
“The intent of the website is multifaceted because we know that a website is used for a lot of purposes,” Dubinsky said.
Many users access the website – families, students, staff, and prospective school community members. The goal was not only to make it a hub for important resources, but to make the information easier to find.
“What you see now is a website that has a very modern interface,” said Secretary-Treasurer Michael McLellan. “It’s highly secure. It’s easier to manage going forward for all the different people in our district.”
The board is still working on some areas of the website, which will be completed during the next few months. Individual schools also have their own updated websites that are aligned in appearance with the district’s.
The superintendent gave an update on student enrolment this year.
As of September 30, there are 513 full-time-equivalent (FTE) students in the district. This includes students enrolled in the online distributed learning program.
In brick-and mortar schools, there are 481 students.
“The good news is that we’re holding very steady,” Dubinsky said.
Some schools have even seen an increase.
When looking at numbers from last year – 519 FTE – it may seem that enrolment has dropped. However, Dubinsky explained this is due to the new ministry requirement that students in the online distributed learning program must live within district bounds.
By school, enrolment numbers are: Edgewood-3; Burton-44; Nakusp Elementary-173; Nakusp Secondary-139; Lucerne Elementary Secondary-107; Arrow Lakes Distributed Learning-45.
Dubinsky explained that the district does generate more FTE (full time equivalent) than actual headcount as many secondary students take more courses than a regular course load, thus putting them over a 1.0 FTE.
Rachael Lesosky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice