The Central Okanagan Board of Education is looking for immediate solutions to address an enrolment surge overwhelming classroom space at École Kelowna Secondary School (KSS).
And an initial survey in the community has found the most popular solution being to build a new Glenmore high school.
The other two dominant responses were to change the KSS catchment boundaries to absorb more students into Okanagan Mission Secondary, and to make changes to French Immersion which in part would be tied to building the new Glenmore school.
The survey results, which had a response of 871 participants providing 812 viewpoints, were discussed at the planning and facilities committee meeting last week.
Further consultation with the community in a second survey outreach is being sought at https://my.thoughtsexchange.com/5722511309.
Besides KSS, the trustees are also grappling with how to implement a French Immersion program into the new H.S. Grenda Middle School in Lake Country when it opens next September.
After completing the survey process, the board is expected to make a final decision on how to move forward in December.
In a survey response analysis provided by the long term facilities plan working committee, a new Glenmore high school is considered the best long-term option, but the school board is seeking a solution that can be implemented next September.
The school district would require capital spending approval from the ministry of education, with a new secondary school to service students north of Highway 97 included on the school district capital plan, and it takes three to four years from a funding announcement to open a new school.
Sending more current KSS students to OKM would avoid FI cutbacks to find added space for the KSS enrolment spike, expected to be total 2010-240 students over the next three years.
Cutting down on the out of catchment area students attending KSS was also suggested, stating it is causing overcrowding at KSS.
“The changing of current practice could be disruptive to students as it separates students from their current cohort if they are required to attend their catchment school instead of the school they were planning to attend,” stated the report.
Also raised for consideration was international program students, who generate $3.8 million in additional revenue for the school district, being directed to alternate secondary school programs other than KSS.
The committee report stated, “Shifting a significant number of international student spots to other schools would cause logistical issues due to homestay locations and existing transportation routes.”
It would also see KSS suffer a loss in support services and see the school’s cultural diversity reduced. Currently, there are 48 committed students for 2021-22 for KSS and 12 students committed for 2022-23.
As for directing new catchment area students to another school, capping and redirecting may result in students that are close to their school to attend a program that is a significant distance away.
“Capping and redirecting eliminates a level of certainty for families on what school they will be attending and disproportionately affects students that are new to the school district,” stated the report.
A public zoom townhall on KSS school capacity solutions will be held Nov. 16, 5 p.m., accessible at https://sd23.zoom.us/s/61498372295.