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Multiple school closures considered for School District 67

Fewer students in School District 67 schools has forced the school district to come up with options for budget cutting that includes the closure of schools in the district. The options were presented in a public meeting held Monday, Oct. 26 at the Shatford Centre.
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October 27, 2015 - 9:00 PM

PENTICTON - A deficit for the 2016-2017 school year estimated at $1.025 million has forced School District 67 to come up with some tough choices.

The school board revealed those options at a public meeting held at Shatford Centre on Monday, Oct. 26.

School board chair Linda Van Alphen says seven of the 18 originally considered by the board to answer the issue of declining enrolment and rising deficits in the school district remain.

Van Alphen says two options include closure of a single school, two options include reconfigurations along with closures and one option includes the addition of early French immersion in addition to reconfiguration and closures.

A sixth option looks at an opportunity to convert to single track early French immersion school in Penticton, an option that would require school closure in order to provide funding.

The seventh option — to maintain the status quo — would mean a reduction in staff and course offerings throughout the district.

Van Alphen says the district is also looking at projections of $750,000 annually for every year following the 2016-17 school year without taking action.

The following options were presented at Monday’s meeting:

- Closing McNicoll Park Middle School for an estimated $463,000 savings annually.

- Closing West Bench Elementary for an estimated annual savings of $360,000.

- Reconfiguring Penticton schools by sending Grades 10 to 12 to Penticton Senior Secondary School, placing Grades 7 to 9 in Princess Margaret and Kettle Valley Railway Schools, making Skaha Lake Kindergarten to Grade 6 and turning the remaining elementary schools in the city, including Kaleden and Naramata, into Kindergarten to Grade 6 schools.
Parkway, Carmi and Westbench schools would be closed at a cost savings estimated at $756,000 annually.

- The last option would involve reconfiguration of Summerland schools. Summerland Secondary would become a Grade 8 to 12 middle and secondary school, while Summerland Middle School and Trout Creek Elementary School would become Kindergarten to Grade 7 schools. Giant’s Head School would close, for an estimated savings of $510,000 annually.

Van Alphen says concerns were raised over late French immersion opportunities, which are expected to remain the same. It was also noted the middle school model would be changed for the district, without supporting documentation. Concerns were also expressed about the prospect of elementary schools being bused, but it was noted the rides would likely be of a maximum of 25 minutes duration.

A full consultation process has been promised by the board, with a total of nine public meetings being scheduled between now and Dec. 10. For a schedule of those meetings, see the school district webpage under the heading, 'From Challenge to Opportunity.'

Other Okanagan school districts have also been looked at the possibility of future school closures. The Central Okanagan School District are looking at possible closures in the Rutland area while in the North Okanagan the district has looked at several possible closures.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad at sarstad@infonews.ca or call 250-488-3065. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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