Controversial computer software system still online

The Central Okanagan School District superintendent of schools says he does not believe the province will abandon its controversial new computer system, despite reports indicating the BCeSIS will cease and desist.

After months of debate, and with 10 school districts (including the local one) poised to give feedback on an independent troubleshooting task force for the province, Vancouver Sun reporter Janet Steffenhagen blogged this week about the software being dropped.But the head of the local school system isn’t buying it.

“I see no official communication,” Hugh Gloster told the Central Okanagan’s board of education during the regularly scheduled meeting Wednesday.

Steffenhagen indicated officials in the Cowichan school district had been told it would be dropped at some point in the near future as the software program had been bought by another company.

Gloster said, to his understanding, the new owners of the student-tracking information system own two other software programs and he foresees the school system might wind up with some hybrid of the three.

Meanwhile, his staff are still planning to provide feedback for the ministry to help troubleshoot its unprecedented and seemingly unending problems as part of the task force, he said.

Teaching assistanceThe school district will throw $95,000 toward additional teaching time to ensure elementary schools where students are struggling the most see improvements.

Seven of the nine schools identified by the district as falling below targeted performance levels will share 14 half days of teacher-on-call time to try and solve specific problems for students“COTA was looking for $250,000,” Gloster said referencing the teacher’s union. “(The) proposal was for 20 teachers off the TOC lists, starting after spring break, but there is no guarantee those people would be trained to deal with the needs.”

Gloster said his years in teaching have shown him that the teacher needs to be specifically trained to deal with an issue, like reading, before they sit down with the kids who are all struggling to learn how to read.

He proposed students be placed in targeted work groups with a teacher trained to deal with the specific problem at hand, and reportedly received COTA’s approval—although a representative was not available to confirm before school trustees voted on the matter.

The funding comes from a $2.2 million kickback the district received from the province as part of a holdback allocation last year. As numbers for this year’s budget are not in yet, the superintendent has recommended a highly conservative approach to spending the money.

The board has already approved spending $362,500 of the money and the rest will otherwise be held in reserve until budget estimates start to come in within the next two weeks.

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