By Andrew Stuckey
The South Okanagan-Similkameen School District (SD53) has released a 39-slide presentation it will deliver February 9 at school closing consultation meetings in Osoyoos.
The presentation outlines the School District’s financial, declining enrolment and facility challenges and details measures the District has undertaken in previous years to respond to budget pressures. It also details opportunities and challenges for 2016/17.
It concludes with a review of two proposed recommendations:
- Moving forward with the closing of Osoyoos Secondary School and the transfer of students to South Okanagan Secondary School in Oliver, possibly as early as June 30, 2016; and,
- Moving forward with the closing of Osoyoos Elementary School, renovating Osoyoos Secondary to a K-9 school and transferring Grade 10 to 12 students to South Okanagan Secondary School. Osoyoos Elementary School would not be closed until renovations were completed at Osoyoos Secondary School.
The presentation suggests $387,300 in operational savings would be realized by closing Osoyoos Secondary School. Closing the school would also negate the need for up to $4.765 million in facility upgrades over the next five years.
Closing Osoyoos Elementary School would result in $397,800 in operational savings but require $600,000 in renovation costs and $74,000 to move playground equipment. The District would also save $1.83 million in facility upgrades.
Osoyoos Elementary is owned by the School District, meaning any proceeds realized from its lease of sale would flow to the District. Osoyoos Secondary, however, would be returned to the provincial government for disposal.
Among other presentation highlights:
- Revenue and expense projections include an estimated shortfall of $1.4 million by 2017/18;
- Salaries and Benefits account for 85 percent of operating expenses. Services, supplies, utilities and other expenses account for just 15 percent;
- Reductions in staffing, transportation, administration and school supplies have resulted in $1 million in savings since 2009;
- Ongoing cost pressures include updating aging technology, future wage increases for excluded staff, increased utility costs, inflation, investment in staff development and initiatives for student success and increased expectation to provide support for diverse student learning needs;
- The District is projecting continued enrolment decline for the next six years;
- Enrolment has declined to 2,158 in 2015 from from 2,809 in 2005;
- Except for Osoyoos Elementary, which has a facility condition index of average, other SD53 schools are rated as in poor or very poor condition. No rating is provided for South Okanagan Secondary School;
Board members and senior administration are scheduled to meet with Osoyoos school staffs at 3 p.m. A meeting with Town of Osoyoos Mayor and Council is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
Osoyoos parents and other residents will see the presentation at 7 p.m.
All meetings are scheduled for Osoyoos Secondary School.
Additional public meetings are scheduled for Osoyoos Elementary School on Tuesday, March 8 and at Osoyoos Secondary School on Wednesday, April 6.
The meetings will begin with a review of the information contained in the Powerpoint and will be followed with an opportunity for feedback and questions.