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qathet School District elementary enrolment stays steady

Strategic plan framework adoption also among board meeting highlights

Anti-SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) protests happened around the province on September 20, including at the qathet School District (qSD) office at 4351 Ontario Avenue.

Those in support of 2SLGBTQIA+ rights and safety in schools also showed up at the district office. Superintendent of schools Dr. Jay Yule addressed the protest at the qSD meeting that afternoon, saying a letter was sent out to let families know what the school district is doing in regard to SOGI education, and what resources there are regarding SOGI.

“Two letters have come to the school board [concerns about SOGI] and we have met with them,” said Yule. “Anyone with concerns are welcome to speak with us and ask questions or come to school board meetings, as they are open to the public.”

He also said the school district has educational resources readily available. 

qSD board chair Dale Lawson said in her opening statement that: “every school is a place where all students deserve to be welcomed, included and respected in a safe environment. We know learning is best rooted in relationships that are built in safe, caring and nurturing environments and that each of us have a role to play in that.”

In 2016, the BC Human Rights Code was amended to ensure gender identity and expression are protected under the code. In 2018, Rob Fleming, provincial minister of education at the time, said: “All of BC’s provincial education partners for kindergarten to grade 12 schools are committed to ensuring every school, both public and independent, is a place where students feel safe, accepted, respected and welcome regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion or background.”

In lite of the protest on September 20 at the qSD building, a statement was released by the board: “With the rise of the anti-SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) protests happening around the province today, we want to emphasize that within SD47 we embrace the authenticity of all students and staff, including those who identify as 2SLGBTQIA+, and we maintain a zero-tolerance policy for any actions that promote hatred towards them.”

Financial focus

Cory Vanderhorst and Graham Roberts from accounting firm MNP gave an audited financial statement presentation at the September 20 meeting, stating that qSD has a $10.9 million surplus that includes operations and capital. The income statement total, including salaries, wages, inflation and increased costs, is $51 million. There were no questions or concerns to report.

qSD secretary-treasurer Steve Hopkins clarified in an email what the audit means from the district's perspective: "That's $51 million in spending on the delivery of services, $2.3 million in capital, with an end of year accumulated operating surplus of $1.9 million."

Hopkins emphasized that the word "surplus" doesn't necessarily mean extra money for the school district.

"The accumulated surplus number of $10.9 million, that the auditors referred to, most of that money is historical capital and doesn’t represent resources available to the school board," added Hopkins.

Trustees approved the operating surplus restriction of $935,065 and the local capital restriction of $537,195 as detailed in note 18 of the financial statements for the year ended June 30, 2023. The audited financial statements for the year ended June 30, 2023, were also approved by the trustees.

Enrolment increase

Yule reported that student enrolment went up by about 100. 

“The growth is in the Partners in Education (PIE) program, which is a provincial online program with the growth coming from students outside the district boundaries,” he said. 

Yule also shared that elementary school numbers have remained steady, meaning that although the overall population in the qathet region is growing, there hasn’t been a huge spike in enrolment. However, a financial statement discussion and analysis report indicates that local schools are near, or in some instances, at capacity. With the active real estate market over the last few years there has been a slow but incremental increase in the local student population, according to the report.

Strategy adopted

The official 2023-2027 Strategic Framework report is complete and has been adopted by the committee of the whole, but not quite ready to be released to the public, said Lawson.

According to the school district website: “Our 2023-2027 strategic plan was developed in partnership with a wide variety of rightsholders, in partnership with Tla’amin Nation. These groups include parents, staff and teachers, community members and students. In May 2023, the board launched a public survey, which received over 500 responses, indicating priorities, visions and ambitions for the future.” 

The school board’s (qSD) strategic plan included extensive community input and usually contains the overall vision, mission and goals of a school district, as well as budget considerations and guides decision making.

“The strategic plan is the most important work trustees have done,” added Lawson.

Trustee Maureen Mason said the real work starts now.

“We have gathered information from the community,” she added, “but we need to keep our eye on the ball, so that we are living what we want to practice.”

Trustee Kirsten Van’t Schip said she is proud of the plan, and fellow trustee Rob Hill said he is glad students and Tla’amin Nation were heard.

“We were able to come together and have our voices heard,” added trustee Jaclyn Miller.

For information about SOGI, go to

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