Letter from the Chair of the Board of Education: Wildflower Nelson School facilities

As the Chair of the Board of Education of School District No. 8 (Kootenay Lake), I write to provide clarity from the Board and, hopefully, answer concerns expressed through various media channels

While I certainly don’t want to discount the valid concerns of any Wildflower School parents or stakeholders, it is vitally important as we continue that we all have accurate, objective information.

Transparency and Facilities Consultation Process

The 2016 Facilities Plan, the 2019 Facilities Plan, and the 2021 Plan adopted this year, were created from lengthy, public consultative processes, with all information shared publicly on the District’s website on the District’s Facilities page. Numerous stakeholders including Wildflower parents participated in this process that started with the adoption of the District’s 2019 Long-Range Facilities Plan adoption in December 10, 2019

In the last six months, the District has held 13 meetings regarding Wildflower’s facilities, comprising five meetings directly with the Wildflower PAC, one Nelson Family facilities consultation meeting, one Trustee information session, and six public Board meetings.

All information that has been presented at these meetings has been shared online on the Board’s meetings page (www.sd8.bc.ca/Board/meetings) or on the District’s facilities page (www.sd8.bc.ca/facilities). 

The Board has been gratified by the level of community engagement on this issue and has received and considered approximately 100 letters from various stakeholders, with copies of these letters posted on the District website at the Board meetings page to promote transparency and discussion. 

The Board values the range of perspectives expressed and endeavours to consider all information it receives.

2018-2019 Staged Move & Renovation at Central School Building

For the 2018-2019 year, the Board undertook a staged move to relocate classrooms and departments at the Central School building, as well as an extensive renovation of the building.  This initiative was intended to create long-term spaces for both Wildflower School and the District’s administrative offices, and to reduce the overall footprint of facilities in Nelson.

Prior to the move and renovation, Wildflower School had six classrooms in the building, and three District departments occupied five classroom spaces: the District’s distance learning school (Elev8 DESK), the District technology department, and the International program.

It was Wildflower School’s preference to use the main level of the building and requested exclusive use of that level, which was granted.  Wildflower School moved into the six classrooms on the main level – all of which were renovated – and continued to use an additional classroom on the lower level. Together, these seven classrooms provided classrooms for all students in the school at that time. 

The following table shows the usage of Central building before and after the staged move and renovation:

 

The specifications used for the renovation of the administrative offices at the Central building are the same renovation specifications used for the classrooms in all SD8 schools and were accomplished at low-cost.  More details can be found on our website: SD8 Administrative Offices Specifications

As part of this renovation, Elev8 DESK moved to offices at LV Rogers and Hume campuses.  Other District departments were moved and consolidated into the 2nd floor of the building, and the technology department moved to a space on the lower level.  

Compared with keeping administrative offices on Johnstone Road or renting additional space, the Board is saving hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in lower rent or maintenance costs, which the Board is investing back into educational services throughout the District. 

The Board was also able to sell the former board office property on Johnstone Road, freeing up capital, which the Board is also using to reinvest in facilities District-wide.

At the same time, there remains more than enough capacity in the Nelson Family of Schools to provide excellent learning environments for all current and forecast students. 

Wildflower Enrolment & Classrooms at Central

Wildflower Nelson’s total enrolment has grown to approximately 160 students this year, and next year, given the reconfiguration in the Nelson Family of Schools will be the first year most of Wildflower’s Grade 8s would remain at the school for Grade 9. 

Wildflower currently uses 7 classrooms in the Central building.  The space on the lower level under the gym, formerly the library space, was chosen to be used as a classroom by the school’s staff, instead of a classroom space on the main level.  The available main level space is currently being used as a library and learning commons, and the District plans to enlarge and modernize this space.

District Staff have analyzed various options for the Wildflower School’s facilities and provided them to the Board for consideration.  These included the options proposed by the Wildflower PAC.  The two options that were consideration are: moving the middle years grades to a new, independent Wildflower space at Trafalgar campus or capping the school’s enrolment at up to 169 students using the 7 classrooms available in the Central building. 

I would encourage all Wildflower School parents and your readers to visit our website to learn more about the District Facilities planning, and participate in this process at: www.sd8.bc.ca/facilities.

 

Yours truly,

Lenora Trenaman

Board Chair, School District No. 8 (Kootenay Lake)