This past school year has been marked by success and achievement from students and staff, says Central Okanagan Public Schools superintendent/CEO Kevin Kaardal.
In his Year in Review report presented at the June 28 board of education meeting, Kaardal cited the school district theme of ‘Caring Communities’ has been nurtured and celebrated throughout the past year –recognizing the connection between students, staff, families and the greater community.
Kaardal revealed the theme for the 2023-24 school year will be ‘Together, we inspire’.
“Together, we inspire wonder,” Kaardal said. “When you wonder about anything, you are learning.”
In his report, Kaardal cited changes on the board of education following last fall’s school board elections, with two new trustees joining the board and Lee-Ann Tiede elected by the trustees as the new chair.
The board of education presides over public education in four municipalities - Peachland, West Kelowna, Kelowna and Lake Country - along with Westbank First Nation and the Regional District of Central Okanagan.
The 5th largest school district in the province with an enrolment of 24,548 students, it encompasses 47 schools including one alternative education site and one K-12 online learning program, with partnerships with 15 preschools and eight StrongStart centres.
The new board has submitted a budget for $347,647,368 to the Ministry of Education and Childcare for the 2023-24 school year, adopted at the June 28 meeting.
Kaardal noted the board also advocated for public education issues, updated the Five-Year Capital Plan, received and considered 173 letters from the public, accepted the sexual education level 1 review and participated in a total of nine school community student learning conversation events.
Other accomplishments cited in Kaardal’s report:
• The six-year B.C. resident completion rate for Central Okanagan is 96 per cent, higher than the 91.4 provincial average; the Indigenous six-year B.C. resident completion rate is 86 per cent, also higher than the 75 per cent provincial average.
• In the performing arts, École Okanagan Mission Secondary produced The Addams Family while École Kelowna Secondary staged Clue and Mount Boucherie Secondary put on a music winter carnival.
• The Kelowna Art Gallery hosted the 37th annual Art in Action student exhibition, while the Peachland Art Gallery showcased about 70 works of art from Mount Boucherie Secondary students.
• The Central Okan-agan Bursary and Scholarship Society distributed 585 financial awards adding up to a total donation of $545,315.
• On the social responsibility side, many schools participated in the annual Terry Fox Run to raise funds for cancer research, while other notable contributions included École Okanagan Mission Secondary raising $30,000 from its 2023 Relay for Life and École Dr. Knox Middle raising $18,402.72 from its Bald Falcon Day.
More than 500 music students from Lake Country to West Kelowna showcased their talents at the Music Monday concert held at Prospera Place.
Food and toy drives took place at many schools prior to Christmas, highlighted by 279 donated boxes of cereal delivered to the food bank, donated by Black Mountain Elementary students
• In sports, École Kelowna Secondary senior boys and École Okanagan Mission Secondary senior boys and senior girls volleyball teams won provincial championships, while the Mount Boucherie Secondary senior girls volleyball team were silver medallists.
• The Mount Bouch-erie Secondary robotics team place second in the Robotics Canadian Pacific Regional Championships.
• The long-service recognition of four employees for 35 years of service, 27 employees for 30 years and 46 employees for 20 years was acknowledged by the school district, as each employee was presented with a certificate, chocolates and a school district pin.
• Among capital projects, the school district reopened École Bellevue Creek (Grade K-1) and Webber Road elementary schools (Grade K-5), 17 portables were commissioned on school grounds, a proposal definition report for the expansion of École Hudson Road Elementary, a concept plan for a new school on the Burtch Road property adjacent to the Apple Bowl, demolition completed for former George Pringle Elementary to make way for new Westside secondary school, and completion of three childcare facilities on school sites with four more currently under construction.
• The International Education Program generated revenues of $6.6 million from the enrolment of 599 students coming from 27 countries and jurisdictions. The net profit of more than $3 million will be used to support school services and programs not funded in the budget.