entral Okanagan Board of Education chair Moyra Baxter and school district administrator/CEO Kevin Kaardal. Photo: Capital News files

entral Okanagan Board of Education chair Moyra Baxter and school district administrator/CEO Kevin Kaardal. Photo: Capital News files

SD 23 board chair addresses parent reconfiguration angst

Moyra Baxter seeks public clarity for policy process

The grade reconfiguration in West Kelowna schools this spring left parents frustrated, venting their anger at school board trustees.

The changes were made to accommodate the new middle school grade configuration of Grades 6 to 8 this fall for West Kelowna schools, a policy move parents were advised in January initially would come into affect in the 2019-20 school year, only less than a month later to see that timeline bumped up to this fall for financial considerations.

As a result, Central Okanagan board of education chair Moyra Baxter wants the timeline process outlined within the school closure/consolidation policy to also include grade reconfiguration.

Related: School board rejects West Kelowna school reconfiguration delay

Baxter said her intent is not to revisit the West Kelowna debate, but to avoid similar complaints in the future.

“What is done in West Kelowna is done. But there will be more class reconfiguration decisions in the future and there needs to be a process that understood by everyone,” Baxter said. “If parents feel left out of this process, we as a board need to respond to that.”

Baxter said trustees and the administration can communicate policy change decisions related to reconfiguration, but she says if parents don’t understand or feel a part of that process, which was a common complaint among West Kelowna parents concering reconfiguration decisions, that needs to be addressed.

Many parents argued March to June wasn’t enough time to prepare students, teachers and parents for the changes.

Parents pointed to the school closures/consolidation policy being violated as reason to delay the reconfiguration, but trustees were advised by school district superintendent/CEO Kevin Kaardal that legal advice on the issue said otherwise, that reconfiguration is not affected by school closure/consolidation process stipulations.

Baxter’s resolution, referred to the policy committee for more discussion, wants to eliminate any confusion about that moving forward.

If amended, the policy will state that no later than January, the board would initiate a process of discussion and consultation with staff, parents and the community on reconfiguration decisions.

The board would make a decision on the reorganization of schools so that any necessary school closure/consolidation/reconfiguration could be effective as of June 30 of that same year.

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