School District 71 starting the year on a strong note

With an increase in student registration coupled with a new Strategic Priorities Plan, the school district is starting the 2019/20 school year off on a strong footing.

The school district will see an increase in enrolment at the elementary and secondary level. As projected and consistent with the population growth in the Valley, student enrollment continues to grow with approximately 600 students registered for kindergarten and close to 8,500 students district-wide.

“A great deal of planning is involved in providing additional classrooms at the elementary level to accommodate our growing enrolment. In response to the projected growth, we began a process of examining our catchment configurations to ensure students can be properly placed in schools,” said Tom Demeo, superintendent of schools. “Currently, there are sufficient spaces in the district, however, the location of spaces does not line up with the areas within our region that are experiencing increased growth.”

Recognizing the space constraint, the Board of Education began work around boundary reconfiguration in May by first seeking input from parents and the communities on how to shape a consultation process. Using the feedback from four public sessions, the senior staff will create a process for public consultations in the coming weeks.

With increased student population and growth, there is a need for additional staff. During the past eight months, Comox Valley Schools welcomed over 80 new hires to the district.

“Recruiting, hiring and retention are one of the most important aspects of our work in a region that is experiencing growth.” explained Demeo. “We are consistently working on different ways to support the transition of new staff to the district and to provide professional development for all of our staff. During the week before school opens, there were over 30 professional development sessions offered.”

New to this school year is the Strategic Priorities Plan adopted in June by a new board that was elected in October of 2018. The priorities plan is the district’s “road map” and sets clear direction for the next four years. Key focus areas in the plan include Indigenous ways of knowing and learning, physical and mental health and wellness for students and staff, environmental stewardship, and a focus on educational excellence through collaboration and innovation in school classrooms and throughout the community.

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