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school board briefs

Red budget, Signal Hill, outdoor school attract school board eyes The Howe Sound district school board took an early look at its finances to discover it could be running $345,000 in the red at the end of the fiscal year. "As board chair and as a trustee of this district, it's a real concern to keep an eye on that," says Judy Bourhis. "Because that's a projected deficit if we don't tighten our belts, we're dealing with it right now," Bourhis says. The number crunching came out differently from earlier projections partly because increased numbers of students didn't happen, Bourhis says. Budgeting sets costs based on projections of need — how many teachers are needed to teach how many students, for example — but the province pays out based on the actual number of students. o The school board took its amended capital plan for Pemberton's Signal Hill Elementary School off the table at its Nov. 12 meeting to pass it, creating a two-phase project. One phase would create a primary or intermediate school to accommodate overcrowding at the current school, while the second phase explores sites for full replacement of Signal Hill school. The new capital plan replaces the board’s original submission to the government in September. It's hoped that the two paths will make the situation easier at the current school while still working toward a new school. "It now goes to the Ministry of Education," Bourhis says. "All we can do is wait to hear in the spring and keep our fingers crossed." o It's looking more like the Coast Mountain Outdoor School and Heritage Village will come back to life. The school board's Friends of CMOS were at the site cleaning and dusting cabins and other buildings so it will be "open for business as of Dec. 1," says a letter to all trustees from board superintendent Mike Fitzpatrick. The board is seeking corporate sponsorship to run the facility and will announce re-opening the Heritage Village soon. There have been some renters using the site, and the facility has been regularly maintained, so the lands and buildings aren't falling apart, board chair Bourhis explains. "There are some nibbles," Bourhis says of potential users. "It's very exciting if at least for it to begin to pay for itself."