Students and staff at NISS will have to wait a little longer for a planned upgrade to the heating system at the school. But when they do get it, it could be pretty cool for a heating system.
Treasurer John Martin told the board that staff were working with engineers from the Regional District on plans to use waste heat from the arena to heat the school.
To keep the ice solid on the arena floor, huge refrigeration units draw heat from inside the building and shed it outside. The plan would be to funnel that unwanted warmth from the heat exchangers to the nearby high school.
“This is really exciting,” said Martin. “It sounds really positive but it needs some money up-front.”
The upgrade wasn’t included as a line item on a five-year financial plan presented last week. Instead, funds are being saved from this year’s plan to be added to next year’s as funding for the project’s installation.
Once up and running, the project should see significantly lower heating bills for the school as the arena — in operation during the colder months — supplies much of the winter heating.
School Board members were unanimous in their praise of a district newsletter.
“It’s a way of getting topics and ideas out to the community,” explained Superintendent Scott Benwell. “It’s a first trial; we’ve received some good feedback. It fills a niche of drawing attention to some of the good work done in our schools.”
“We’ve got some wonderful things going on in this district,” concurred Chair Leightan Wishart.
The board also heard that the SD85 would be featured in an upcoming LEARN magazine profile. “They would like to feature our district around the work we’re doing on our Aboriginal Educational programs,” explained Benwell. District Principal of First Nations Programs Kaleb Child is to feature on the cover of the magazine while he and others in the program are highlighted in an article within its pages.
“There’s a real sense of pride (about this),” said Benwell.
Assistant Superintendent Katherine Macintosh shared news that the district was selected to participate in a new initiative on teaching excellence.
The district was one of 32 that submitted proposals to the Ministry of Education and one of only six chosen to participate.
“We’re excited by this opportunity,” said McIntosh. “Not only is this funded by the ministry, but we’ll have the opportunity to share our results provincially. I’m very excited to be a part of this.”
“This is not about being the token rural district,” said Benwell, “this was done on merit. We can stack up with anyone they put us against.”
Long-term financial projections
A prudent approach to financial management will keep the district’s books healthy in the long-term and avoid a deficit, treasurer Martin told the board during a long-term financial projection.
“You’ve seen this,” said Martin. “We’ve just gone through a year so we’ve moved from projected to actuality. Due to continued declining enrolment, we’ve added another year of funding protection. We’re looking at $200-300 thousand in reductions year-on-year. With a prudent approach we will not be in a deficit any of those years.”
“We need to build good habits in this district,” agreed Benwell.
The Board of Education voted to accept a draft of the district’s strategic plan, the fruit of months of collaboration aimed at defining a framework for future direction in the district.
After a brief discussion on some of the exact wording in the document, the board passed a motion to accept the plan as presented.
“The Strategic Plan 2013/14 sets priorities and defines the path of our school district for the next five years,” the document states. ” It serves as a framework to guide the planning and decision-making throughout the district, ensuring that we remain focused on every student becoming a graduate prepared for opportunities beyond graduation.”
The plan outlines some core values to be considered in future discussions and the aspirations that the district holds for its students.
“I want to thank (trustees) Danita (Schmidt) and Werner (Manke) for their collaboration and (Treasurer-Secretary) John (Martin) who gave us some external eyes,” said Benwell.