School briefs

News from the June meeting of the Haida Gwaii public school board.

Capital plan

School trustees sent the province a five-year wish list for school buildings upgrades on Haida Gwaii.

Topping the list is a request for $4.4-million to combine Masset’s elementary and high schools — an option trustees have yet to decide on.

The district could seek a modified renovation, or build an entirely new building, but the Ministry of Education has already said neither of those options is likely to be funded.

Next on the list is phase two of replacing the exterior of Gudangaay Tlaats’gaa Naay, followed by constructing a GTN tsunami tower (more below), redoing floors at Sk’aadgaa Naay, the retaining wall out front of GTN, and the roofs at Sk’aadgaa Naay.

The plan also includes $140,000 for solar panels at GTN and the option that the district may request four buses to run its own, less costly school bussing program.

Tsunami tower?

School trustees are asking the province to consider a novel evacuation plan for Masset students in case of tsunami — a $1.7-million tsunami tower at Gudangaay Tlaats’gaa Naay.

“This is a new concept,” said Superintendent Dawna Day, noting that it would be a first for B.C., although tsunami towers are going up in Japan and other Pacific coast countries.

“Instead of going out, you go up,” she said.

“We could get students to safety much, much quicker.”

Standing several storeys tall, the steel structures can feature swinging doors at the base to slow the impact of any tsunami debris. Day said that if it does go ahead, the district would save the $70,000 a year it currently pays to keep a Masset tsunami bus at the ready.

“It would be Haida Gwaii leading the pack in the province,” she said.

After-school switch

Starting in the fall of 2018, the Haida Gwaii school district will run after-school and arts programs rather than Haida Gwaii Rec.

At the June school board meeting, Superintendent Dawna Johnson-Day said the issue is that Haida Gwaii Rec needs a multi-year contract, but the district’s Dash BC funding for after-school programs comes year to year.

Haida Gwaii Rec will continue to run the after-school activities for the coming school year, with Ian Keir, principal at Tahayghen Elementary, leading the transition for 2018.

Johnson-Day said she was happy to note that Dash BC is increasing its funding to Haida Gwaii schools to $105,000 in the 2017-18 school year, a $15,000 boost from this year’s $90,000.