June 21, 2019 --
With enrollment expected to steadily increase in School District No. 57 (Prince George), the renovation and expansion of D.P. Todd Secondary School is at the top of the district's 2020-21 five-year capital plan.
The future of D.P. Todd was a topic of discussion at the Board of Education regular public meeting on Tuesday, June 18. The school's current capacity is 625. The proposed renovation/expansion project would create space for an additional 300 students and take pressure off Duchess Park Secondary School, which is 125 students over its capacity of 900.
The estimated cost of the D.P. Todd project is $40,045,503. The five-year capital plan must be submitted to the Ministry of Education by June 30, 2019.
"With the government's recent announcement that they are funding the replacement of schools and the needed repairs and adjustments that our annual facility grant cannot actually manage, I do hope that we will be able to get a good portion of our ask for this next year, particularly (for the) D.P. Todd expansion, which I know we are really counting on in order that we can address the challenges at Duchess Park in the best way that we possibly can," said Board Vice Chair Sharel Warrington. "So that ask is a very important ask and I sure hope that we can do a little bit more to advocate for the government to support that important addition to D.P. Todd."
Secondary schools across Prince George are nearing or exceeding capacity. Total enrollment currently sits at 5,271. By 2024, it is projected to climb to 5,844.
"A very key piece to our challenge at the secondary level with capacity is really this expansion project at D.P. Todd," said Trustee Ron Polillo. "This is crucial for our district to really tackle that long-term. I know I have my commitment from the Board here that we're going to work very hard and advocate very strongly to hopefully present a very compelling business case to the Ministry and hopefully get that expansion announced sooner than later."
Pay raises approved
The meeting also saw the Board of Education approve trustee pay raises. Effective July 1, Board Chair Tim Bennett's annual remuneration will be $21,571. Vice Chair Warrington will receive $20,071 and the trustees will be paid $18,571 each. The new salaries represent a 1.75 per cent increase – about $30 per month.
Warrington said the Management and Finance Committee engaged in "considerable discussion" about trustee remuneration, which is mandated for review on a yearly basis.
"As a Board, it's never an easy conversation when you are looking at remuneration," said Bennett, who noted that a recommended pay raise in 2014 didn't receive trustee approval.
"I can say as Chair that you all put an incredible amount of hours into serving the district and the respective communities. Many of you put between 50 to 70 hours per month in service to the community, especially Trustee (Shuirose) Valimohamed and Trustee (Bob) Thompson, who travel (from Mackenzie and the Robson Valley respectively) to be here. I think the 1.75 per cent is fair at this point. I believe it helps bring us a little bit closer to comparable districts our size."
Bennett also commented on the role remuneration plays when it comes to attracting trustee candidates.
"I believe it plays a critical role in the recruitment and retention of trustee candidates moving into the next election," he said. "You definitely do not run to be a trustee for the money but I've also seen first-hand the amount of time you're taking away from your business, your family, and I don't think trustees should be losing money to serve a district."
New Kelly Road on time and on budget
Construction of the new Kelly Road Secondary School continues. The facility is on target for a 2020 opening and will accommodate up to 900 students.
"A year and a bit from now, we'll be opening a brand new school in our district and I know everyone is very excited about that," said Polillo. "That project is moving along nicely. It is going to be a state-of-the-art, great learning and teaching area for our students and staff and administration."
Darleen Patterson, Secretary Treasurer for School District No. 57, indicated that the $44.3-million project is on budget. The cost is being shared by the provincial government ($43.3 million) and the district ($1 million).
When the new school is ready for use, the original one – built in the early 1960s on the same site – will be demolished.
Kelly Road Secondary School serves the Hart Highway and regions to the north of Prince George.
Chivilo recognized with award
During the meeting, teacher Trina Chivilo was presented with the Todd Rogers Research Award. The award is given by the Canadian Education Researchers' Association to an individual who has demonstrated a sustained commitment to: facilitating the building of formal research/investigative networks to support a culture of evidence-informed student achievement improvement; and providing direct leadership and support to educators to enhance evidence-informed research and knowledge mobilization-based professionalism in schools and classrooms.
Chivilo is a music instructor at Harwin Elementary School.
Jingle Dress dancer entertains
The June 18 meeting – the final one of the 2018-19 school year – opened with a Jingle Dress dance by Duchess Park student Caitlyn McCarville (see video below).
The next public board meeting is scheduled for Sept. 24, 2019.