School Board in Brief — Dec. 8, 2017

Something Foul

Something stinks at Agnes L. Mathers Elementary.

Pre-fabricated off-island and built in Sandspit over the summer, the new school building has occassionally been the source of foul smells bad enough to send students home early.

Schools Superintendent Dawna Day said the facilities manager Lao Peerless has done a lot of work to identify the source of the odours, but hasn’t found anything conclusive so far. It does not seem to be a septic problem.

“At this point, we have no evidence to suggest that it’s not just new-building smells,” Day said.

“We do take this very seriously, and are definitely continuing to look into that matter,” she added. “We are looking at the possibility of bringing in people with greater expertise.”

North-end support

North-end students will soon benefit from a full-time support worker dedicated to child and youth wellness.

Speaking at the November school board meeting, Haida Gwaii Schools Superintendent Dawna Day said she was delighted to use a very rare phrase to describe funding for the new position — a “perpetual grant” from B.C.’s Ministry of Children and Family Development.

Interviews started last week, and the support worker will work with students during and after school at Chief Matthews, Tahayghen, Gudangaay Tlaats’gaa Naay, and Port Clements Elementary.

Day said the role is a first for the province, and hopes it can be mirrored for south-end schools. The Ministry chose to hire a support worker in north-end Haida Gwaii because the area is relatively underserved, with similar positions that have gone unfilled.

Budget floor

Haida Gwaii school trustees will lobby for a minimum school district budget at the provincial council of B.C. trustees this February.

Superintendent Dawna Day said that after taking part in a funding review for small, isolated school boards in northern Ontario, it occurred to her that provincial ministries should agree on a base budget for school districts regardless of school enrolment. The policy was not adopted in Ontario where, like B.C., school district funding is tied to the number of students.

“It costs a certain amount to operate a board whether there are 500 students or 1,000 students,” Day said.

Local trustees agreed a draft a motion on the issue and present it their provincial counterparts this winter.

Haida Gwaii School District