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School board moves to public consultation on big changes for September 2015

Roughly 80 people attended a public school board meeting Tuesday, Mar. 10 to find out more about possible school closures and reconfigurations.
March 11, 2015 - 11:20 AM

NORTH OKANAGAN - There could be some big changes in School District 83 as early as the beginning of the coming school year.

At a packed board meeting attended by roughly 80 parents and community members Tuesday night, school trustees voted to launch public consultation on five recommendations included in a long term facilities plan.

One of the most contentious recommendations calls for the closure of Silver Creek Elementary in September 2015. Other considerations are to convert Ranchero Elementary to a K-5 school, and transfer grade 6 and 7 students to Shuswap Middle School; to close a significant portion of Parkview Elementary and reconfigure it as a K-5 school with Eagle River Secondary converting to a grades 6-12 school; to convert North Shuswap Elementary to a K-8 school; and to reconfigure Falkland Elementary to a K-8 school. All changes are being looked at for September 2016, but nothing can be finalized without public consultation. 

“If we want to get territorial, I’ll say I’m territorial right now,” Falkland, Deep Creek, and Ranchero school trustee Debbie Evans said. “It’s hard…. We’re the ones that are affected, our schools are affected in the short run.”

With two weeks of spring break coming up, Evans noted public consultation for the changes is on a very short timeline.

“This report is a plan to move the conversations forward and get us into the public consultation,” she said. “We need to start moving forward.”

Dates for public consultation meetings in all the affected communities are now being finalized and will be released as soon as possible.

“We cannot move on any of these things unless we go out to the public,” board chair Bobbi Johnson said.  “We have to have public meetings on every single thing we do, it is not something the board has made up its mind (on).”

Longer term recommendations, such as eventually closing Parkview Elementary, closing Len Wood Middle School and converting Pleasant Valley Secondary to a grades 6-12 school, and closing Grindrod Elementary, were deferred for the time being. The board will consider those recommendations at a later date.

Judy Shoemaker, the consultant who conducted the long term facilities report, made a presentation to the board outlining the methodology behind the review. She said school capacities, based on a Ministry of Education formula, were calculated at all district schools and showed many were under capacity, even with a forecast increase in student enrolment. In some cases, schools had large amounts of space going unused, Shoemaker said.

More information about the recommendations can be found here, in the report itself.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infonews.ca or call 250-309-5230. 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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