School board proceeds with crosswalk plans

School district, City of Cranbrook enter into cost-sharing plan to install pedestrian lights at Mount Baker Secondary School.

The Southeast Kootenay School District is entering a cost-sharing plan with the City of Cranbrook to install a set of pedestrian-controlled crosswalk lights by Mount Baker Secondary School.

The Southeast Kootenay School District is entering a cost-sharing plan with the City of Cranbrook to install a set of pedestrian-controlled crosswalk lights by Mount Baker Secondary School.

Crosswalks, staff compensation and provincial funding just some of a number of topics that were covered at a recent school board meeting in Cranbrook last week.

The crosswalk issue has to deal with the safety issues surrounding the pedestrian crossing from the Safeway parking lot to Mount Baker Secondary School on 14th Ave.

Earlier in the year, the school board proposed a 50/50 cost sharing agreement with the City of Cranbrook to install two pedestrian signs at a total cost of $5,400.

The School Board voted to approve Rob Norum, the SD5 secretary treasurer, to proceed with the agreement for the cost-sharing plan.

“Those things are a municipal responsibility, but we’re interested in student safety,” said SD5 board chair Frank Lento. “It was unanimous by the board that we enter into that 50/50 agreement because it’s so delicate right there at Mount Baker and the store there.

“We think that’s important.”

The proposal was initiated by the school district to install pedestrian-controlled lights such as the ones at the intersection of Victoria Ave. and 4th St.

Though not considered a high-risk collision area, the intersection by Mount Baker has been the scene of two accidents between 2006-2013 and has been identified as an problem area with vehicle speed. In both accident cases, the vehicles were rear-ended after stopping for pedestrians crossing the street.

The proposed pedestrian lights will be solar-powered, high intensity, flashing LED lit school zone signs. The illuminated signs will have controllers to allow for the programming of the signs to flash on the corresponding days and times when the school zone is in effect.

Two advocacy issues, including a progress report on a set of recommendations from a government budget consultation document as well as district staff compensation, were also addressed.

The board carried a motion to write a letter to Mike de Jong, the B.C. Minister of Finance, asking for an update on a set of 15 recommendations that came out of the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services’ (SSCFGS) Report on the Budget 2015 Consultations.

“As we see nothing in the 2015 provincial budget that appears to address any of the SSFGS recommendations, our Board would like to know what specific actions the government—and your ministry in particular—has developed to address these 15 important recommendations to restore education funding to a level that supports the basic needs of public education in B,C.,” wrote the school board, in a draft letter.

Some of the 15 recommendations in the report include: providing adequate capital funding to school districts for facility improvements, seismic upgrades, and additional schools in rapidly growing communities; increasing operating grants to post-secondary institutions to address unfunded cost pressures and providing support for proposed new K-12 initiatives such as personalized learning and enhanced trades and technology training, among others.

The board had previously written to the Ministry of Finance in 2014, asking for the same update for the 2014 edition of the report.

“To date, we have received no response and can only assume one is forthcoming,” wrote the board, in the same letter to the de Jong.

Additionally, the board also approved a motion to send another letter to de Jong regarding exempt staff wage freezes, which have been in place since 2009.

In the draft letter, the board notes that provincial teaching and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) have received modest wage increases.

“Practically, the failure by the government to recognize that management and exempt staff both need and deserve a wage increase creates a financial imbalance amongst our employee groups and makes attracting and retaining the educational leaders vital to a strong public education system difficult,” wrote the board.