January 20, 2015 - 11:06 AM
KELOWNA - The end of the echo boom is hitting Rutland Senior Secondary, forcing the Central Okanagan school district to change grade configurations or risk losing some of the school’s unique programming.
“We had a wave of high school students pass through in the last few years,” the school district’s secretary-treasurer, Larry Paul says. “This year’s grade twelves are the last of the large cohorts. They start shrinking after that.”
Paul said there is no danger of the school, that first opened in the '70s, shutting down.
“We’re trying to make sure the school remains viable and has the size to offer district programs,” Paul said. District programs are educational options that are usually offered at only one high school but that draw from the school district’s entire population.
The demographic downsizing the school is experiencing has already affected programming, Paul said, pointing to the residential construction program as an example.
“Residential construction didn’t run this year. The population wasn’t there,” he said. “We had a few good years there, built five houses, but there just wasn’t enough interest.”
While a detailed proposal has yet to be presented to school trustees, Paul said the plan is straightforward and requires very little extra funding to implement.
“There wil be some logistical cost to moving teachers around but that’s the normal course of business,” he said. “There may be some minor renovations but no capital costs.”
The change would be realized by stripping out grade 9 classes from both Rutland Middle and Springvalley Middle schools, leaving them as grades 6-8, and adding them to RSS.
Paul said the district has little choice but to deal with the downsizing which has seen the school’s population drop from 1,500 to around 1,100 this year. “The concern we have now is that the school takes such a drastic drop next year, we may lose addtional programs,” he said. “They may disappear and not come back. Parents of students at the affected schools have already been consulted about the move, Paul said, and are split about evenly whether it should happen in September, 2015 or the following year.
Trustees will get their first glimpse of the proposal at the Wed. Jan. 21 public planning and facilities committee, which meets in Rm. 1 at the Hollywood Rd. Educational Facility at 4:30 p.m. It will come back to the full board of trustees at the Jan. 28 regular public board meeting.
— This story was corrected at 12:33 p.m., Jan. 20. An earlier version of this story had an incorrect date for the Jan. 21 public planning and facilities committee meeting.
— This story was updated at 1:05 p.m., Jan. 20. The school board changed the venue for the Jan. 21 public planning and facilities committee meeting.
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