The next school board meeting will be Dec. 16 at 6 p.m. in the Kinnaird Elementary School. (Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash)

Byelection coming for Kootenay Columbia school trustee

The board appointed its Chief Election Officer at the Monday meeting

Planning a byelection, replacing the grade school in Trail, and expanding, or re-configuring, Castlegar elementary classrooms, topped the checklist for Kootenay Columbia trustees this week.

After longtime chair Teri Ferworn resigned last month, the eight remaining board members met in Robson on Monday, to move ahead with the issues at hand under acting-chair Darrel Ganzert, a longtime trustee from the Beaver Valley.

He said a byelection will be held in the new year to fill the vacant seat, which represents Areas I and J of the Regional District of Central Kootenay.

Read more: Enrolment up slightly, Trail high school at capacity

There is no date set just yet. However, since Natalie Verigin, the school district’s secretary/treasurer, was appointed as Chief Election Officer at the Nov. 18 meeting, she now has 80 days to schedule the byelection and inform constituents living in those two areas. As per the school act, the byelection must be held on a Saturday.

Another matter the trustees dealt with was advancing the final “Project Development Report” for Glenmerry Elementary School. The hopes are this report will secure provincial funding to build a new school.

Ganzert says the board replaced its original design firm with a new company called CHP Architects, the latter being a firm that offers extensive recent experience building schools, and an understanding of the ministry’s’s process for new school builds.

“We expect their work to be done in the next three to four weeks,” Ganzert told the Trail Times. “Then it’s just a matter of the right ministry looking at it and giving us the approval. To this point, nobody expects any hiccups,” he added.

“We have got our fingers crossed. And of course, the sooner the better.”

The 251-seat school was built in 1959. The facility now has six portables on site in order to meet the present day capacity of roughly 380 students.

Another timely action the board took on Monday was to address the growing student body at grade schools in Castlegar.

“In the north end of the Castlegar area, there is a lot of pressure on the elementary schools,” Ganzert explained. “They are at capacity, or exceeding capacity, so the school board is going to be asking for public input on two issues.”

He says the board will seek insight in the form of a survey, and at an upcoming public meeting (TBA), regarding two options that could relieve the problem with over crowding.

Parents will be asked if they agree with moving Grade 7 students to Stanley Humphries High School where there is room, or if the preferred option is to purchase portables and keep the students at Twin Rivers and/or Kinnaird Elementary.

“No decision has been made,” he emphasized. “The only decision we made last night (Monday) was that we would hold the consultations in those two forms.”

The district is projecting steady growth of grade school students in the Kinnaird-end of Castlegar over the next several years, so Ganzert says these are short-term solutions.

“We have to do something long term, and this is a step in that direction,” he said. “Ultimately what we hope, is that the ministry understands our plight and helps us, in some way, to solve the problem.”



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