Neighbours riled over soccer, schools stuck with BCeSIS

Wednesday's school board meeting reveals Dorothea Walker Elementary School's soccer fields causing problems.

  • Thu Mar 10th, 2011 5:00pm
  • News

One might say neighbours surrounding Dorothea Walker Elementary School are taking a serious kick in the teeth over local sports programming.

Wednesday evening Irvin Taylor managed to get school trustees from the Central Okanagan School District on board with a plan to sort out how to stop the world’s fastest growing sport from taking over his life.

“I just think we should have some kind of compromise so we can have some breaks,” said Taylor, who contends the fields are rented to children and teens morning, noon and night and, at times, see large groups lining up en masse to pelt balls at and over his fence.

Irvin says the streets are filled with cars, the balls constantly ring along the chain-link fencing and games or practices are scheduled on an unending continuum which takes little count of the neighbours’ needs for downtime—and then there is the disrespect they show by climbing into his yard without permission.

“When the U15/U16 players are on the field, they can shoot it like Pelé, that’s my age of soccer,” he said. “…When my two year old granddaughter comes over…I’m going to be terrified when she’s in the backyard.”

The trustees acknowledged the soccer association had largely dismissed the concerns and committed to looking into the matter.

***

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 ten 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.

In the meantime, 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.

****

The 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.

jsmith@kelownacapnews.com