Todd Manuel

Even with the best intentions, there may or may not be traditional schooling in the fall depending on what happens with the unknown enemy, more commonly known as COVID-19.

B.C. school boards are planning on a safe return to the school, but with COVID-19, things change daily.

In the case locally of Okanagan Skaha School District 67, when school does finally resume — under some semblance of normalcy — we’re confident students are returning under a positive leadership structure that’s slowly been put in place over the past several months.

Since November, the board has a new chairman, a new superintendent, a new secretary/treasurer plus several senior board officials have been promoted.

James Palanio, with only one year of trustee experience, was voted by his peers to chair the board. It was a turmultous time and the life-long Pentictonite exceeded all expectations. He’s doing a great job!

Credit must also go to the other six trustees who were the architects of the new administrative team at the board office.

Todd Manuel, a former teacher of Special Needs and vice-principal of Pen-Hi, will officially hold the title “superintendent” (without the word “assistant” or “interim”) on Aug. 1. He’s done a great job thus far steering the ship through the greatest challenge school boards have faced in 100 years — COVID-19.

We’ve yet to meet her, but Nicole Bittante is the right person to take over as secretary/ treasurer. She has a great reputation and is no stranger to being a fixer, as she worked in Salmon Arm after the province stepped in and fired all the trustees a few years back.

As reported by this newspaper, and several other media outlets, SD67 had some financial concerns that certain people didn’t come clean on.

With the new team in place, we’re confident transparancy will improve with the public, media and partner groups.

Kevin Epp, president of the local teachers’ union, is equally excited and anxious to work collaboratively with the new team.

Also appointed this week was Jason Corday, promoted from director of instruction to assistant superintendent.

Meanwhile, Al Beckingham is the new director of instruction having previously been a district principal.

The one thing this team has in common is that their No. 1 priority is to kids.