The Central Okanagan School District is moving ahead with its contingency plan to host over 700 students from across Canada next week at the 2014 Canadian Student Leadership Conference, an annual event that is set to take place in Kelowna for the first time ever.
The event, set for Sept. 23 to 27, was originally planned to take place in Kelowna Secondary School, shutting the school down for four days while the conference went ahead. But the labour dispute between B.C. teachers and the government dragged on long enough to force the district to look at other sites to host nearly 1,000 people over five days.
Despite a pending settlement in the dispute, school district officials are moving ahead with plans to host the conference without using school district properties.
“We’re going to be taking the conference off school district property simply because we have done a lot of logistical work around that already,” said Hugh Gloster, Central Okanagan School District superintendent.
“We know there has been a lot of disruption already with the loss of instruction time,” said Gloster. “We may use KSS for a half day at the conference and then use off-site facilities for the rest of the conference to avoid any more loss of instructional time.”
Kelowna was awarded the annual conference featuring school leaders three years ago and began work in earnest to host the week-long event two years ago. As the teacher’s dispute dragged on from the end of last year’s school season to this year, organizers contemplated cancelling the event entirely, but decided to move ahead and host it regardless of where the labour dispute was at.
“We looked at (cancelling) it and the impact on 700 innocent, young student leaders from across the country was so profound if we cancelled that we thought this is one we are going to have to do our best to make it happen,” said Gloster.