School District 71’s latest progress report is available. File photo

School District 71’s latest progress report is available. File photo

Big Brothers Big Sisters program for Comox Valley schools

BRIEFS: School district now has gender-neutral washrooms at all middle, secondary schools

Big Brothers Big Sisters on Vancouver Island is expanding school-based mentorship programs in the Comox Valley.

This fall, superintendent Tom Demeo announced the program is coming to Isfeld and Valley View.

“Student leaders at Isfeld will be trained to be in-school mentors for students at Valley View,” he told the board of education.

Gender-neutral restrooms

The district has added a gender-neutral washroom at Highland, director of operations Ian Heselgrave said, meaning all of the School District 71 middle and secondary schools now have them.

“I think that’s a good milestone,” he said.

He updated the school trustees during the first board meeting of the school year about some of the building that had gone in the district over the summer, which included new sinks in the Vanier shop classrooms, a new generator for Courtenay Elementary, a new roof at Isfeld, more classroom spaces and, most notably, the new school buildings for Hornby Island and Lake Trail.

“It’s been a really busy summer,” he said.

FESL Progress Report

School District 71 has made its annual progress report available on the website.

The report is a document that accompanies the district’s annual strategic plan and outlines the board of education’s commitment to various priorities according to the Ministry of Education’s Framework for Enhancing Student Learning.

The district is also making the document the old-fashioned way.

“I know some people prefer the hard copy,” superintendent Tom Demeo said.

The report looks at progress at priority areas including educational excellence, community engagement, organizational stability, environmental stability, physical health and mental well-being.

No issues with audit

The school district’s annual audit was presented at the first board meeting of the year.

“For the public meeting tonight, I just wanted to indicate our audit is substantially complete,” said Lenora Lee of KPMG.

She noted the district’s compliance with rules, adding there were no material errors or significant issues arising from the financial statements. Some of the areas of focus included COVID-19 and grants, the capital program, salaries and benefits, among others.

“In each of those areas we did not identify any significant issues or anomalies,” she said.

District director of finance Candice Hilton outlined the process, saying the audit happens every year, though this was the first year with KPMG.

The board did have questions such as about mental health funding and whether budget numbers could be adjusted, especially in light of recent COVID-19 issues posed by the Delta variant. Hilton said there was no additional COVID funding, but there was some discretion on spending. She added there have been some supply chain issues for purchases.

“We will have some wiggle room to shift things,” she told the board.

The board passed motions to approve the KPMG report for 2020-21 and the audited financial statements.

RELATED STORY: Solar, seismic work among Comox Valley school district requests

Access issue bylaw

The board of education passed all readings of a bylaw concerning waterworks right-of-way for École Puntledge Park.

The bylaw is related to the seismic upgrade work at nearby Lake Trail Community School and is needed because of utilities that run across the property.

“It is a required statutory right-of-way … for the City of Courtenay,” said secretary-treasurer Brenda Hooker.

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