With the snow beginning to fall on the North Island, School District 85’s Board of Education had a timely discussion on the planned NISS heating project during last week’s meeting.
Treasurer John Martin told trustees that SD85 were looking at entering into agreement with the Regional District of Mount Waddington on the project which would see waste heat from the nearby arena being used to heat the school.
Engineers have been on-site in recent weeks to size up the project, which could be put out to tender as soon as this summer.
Martin told trustees that the system could potentially be eligible for carbon neutral funding and, once installed, could run for $1,800 per month — a significant saving on current costs.
While a backup heat source may be necessary, trustees were told, “There’s a good chance that backup generators would never be switched on.”
Trustees responded favourably to the report, with Trustee Lawrie Garrett noting, “In a small district like ours, energy costs are significant and I don’t see them going down any time soon.”
Superintendent Scott Benwell enquired as to possibility of future expansion of the system to incorporate Sunset Elementary.
“Potentially,” replied Martin.” The pool could be done first because it’s on the way. It’s got plenty of potential.”
Martin explained that the suggested system is already in place in Langford.
“It can work really well,” he said, “but it needs to be engineered well. The technology’s there.”
The recent ruling by Justice Susan Griffin in the B.C. Supreme Court which saw the government ordered to pay $2 million to the B.C. Teachers’ Federation was discussed at the board meeting.
“They struck down Bill 22 is the long and the short of it,” explained Benwell.
“And Bill 28,” added Vancouver Island North Teachers’ Association representative Fred Robertson.
The province has indicated that it would appeal that decision.
“We anticipate word this week on whether a stay will be granted; the appeal may take some time,” said Benwell.
In his report later, Robertson said, “Justice Griffin was quite clear: Bills 28 and 22 were unconstitutional… Students have lost out on what the teachers (who were) laid off could have provided.
“We have the second worst per-capita funding in Canada and the worst student to educator ratio. We’re struggling to get to average.”
Robertson was quick to note that his criticisms were aimed at government not teachers. “ That’s not to say that teachers in this district don’t do a good job —they do.”
Trustee Jeff Field advised the board of suggested revisions to the policy manual from the last policy committee meeting.
Particular attention was paid to a student-assisted piece of policy aimed at tackling anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination.
“It’s been a real treat to work with students,” said Benwell. ”This could be a model moving forward.”