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School briefs: Central Okanagan school board reviews sex education

Review to be discussed at April 19 committee meeting

How Central Okanagan Public Schools delivers sexual health education courses to students will undergo a review.

Speaking at the Feb. 24 board of education meeting, school trustee Amy Geistlinger wanted to alert the public the review will be up for discussion at the April 19 education and student services committee meeting.

She said the assessment process has been in the works dating back over a year ago and will include input from school district staff and program stakeholders.

“I wanted to be as forthcoming and transparent as possible this was coming up,” Geistlinger said in a later interview with Black Press Media about raising it at the board meeting, saying input from parents will be welcomed.

Geistlinger said parents have an opportunity to provide their input by emailing assistant superintendent Al Lalonde at, contacting her at or attending the committee meeting.


The Powderhounds Friday Adaptive Ski School program continues to make a difference to students with physical, cognitive and sensory challenges and their families.

Central Okanagan Public Schools inclusive education services staff facilitate the program with the support of Powderhounds volunteer ski instructors, trained to use the adaptive ski equipment and provide adapted ski instruction.

After students have received a single Friday lesson, their families can pursue the skiing option through the Powderhounds Adaptive Snowsports - People In Motion program.

Gail Williamson, director of Powderhounds Adaptive Snowsports, appeared before the Central Okanagan Board of Education last Wednesday to explain the Friday program at Big White Ski Resort, joined by inclusive education consultant Cori Christensen.

Williamson said whether the students are upright skiers, skit skiers or snowboarders, the Powderhounds volunteers are very enthusiastic and dedicated with their time to allow each student to be exposed to skiing as a family activity they can pursue.

The Friday ski program operates from January through March for K-12 students.


The board of education has closed off final amendments to the 2022-23 school district budget.

The board confirmed additional funding of $10.1 million from the provincial government to cover added negotiated contract costs for all employee groups.

Of the funding, $9.2 million falls under general operating costs, and the remaining $900,000 falls on special purpose funding.


The board of education has approved a plan to spend up to $3.9 million for minor capital improvements in local schools for the 2023-24 school year, but it is not enough.

The school district has prioritized annual facility grant funding, provided by the ministry of education, towards the upgrading of mechanical and electrical systems, end-of-life roofing and urgent facility upgrades.

While the funding for this has been relatively consistent in recent years, trustees say it falls far short of maintenance and upgrade needs for the school district.

A staff report says over the past 16 years, the annual facility grant has not kept pace with inflation and has not been adjusted to account for the growth of the district enrolment and new schools, creating an additional 17,080 square metres of space that requires maintenance.

To that end, the trustees adopted a measure to send a letter to the education ministry advocating for an increase in the annual facility grant.


Ex-NHL player Aaron Volpatti was the guest speaker at the annual Boys and Girls Club Okanagan Pink Shirt Breakfast held Wednesday, Feb. 22, at the Laurel Packinghouse.

Volpatti, who recently published his biography, shared his life story and how his perseverance helped him deal with the adversity he has faced in his life.


For the 16th annual Harmony Day last month celebrating diversity, equity and inclusion, guest speaker Ian Tyson spoke to more than 1,800 Grade 5 students, emphasizing to them the importance of being grateful, kind and caring to others and developing resilience to keep pushing forward no matter what obstacles come their way.

Recycle Harmony Day bags were designed by a class of artists at École Kelowna Secondary School and were distributed throughout the district.

READ MORE: Study emphasizes need for better sexual education

Barry Gerding

About the Author: Barry Gerding

Senior regional reporter for Black Press Media in the Okanagan. I have been a journalist in the B.C. community newspaper field for 37 years...
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