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School closures decided for Penticton and Summerland

It was a packed house at the IMC Building behind School District 67's administrative offices Wednesday night, March 9, as the board met in a public meeting to decide the fate of the district's schools.
March 09, 2016 - 8:44 PM

PENTICTON - Approximately 250 concerned citizens crammed into the IMC Building to hear the school district's decision regarding school closures in Penticton and Summerland.

School District 67 trustees discussed each of the 10 recommended motions at tonight’s public meeting, March 9.

The recommendations stemmed from the need to reduce costs and deal with declining enrolment in the Okanagan Skaha district. A series of public meetings regarding the possible reconfigurations and school closures were held over several months to help trustees garner feedback on each of the options.

Discussion over possible Summerland closures led to trustees voting for the option involving the reconfiguration of Summerland Secondary to a Grade 8 to 12 secondary school and the reconfiguration of Summerland Middle School to a Grade 4 to 7 intermediate school.

Giant’s Head Elementary school will also be reconfigured to a Kindergarten to Grade 3 primary school, with Trout Creek Elementary set to close June 30, 2016.

The motion passed with a five to two vote.

The board also voted in favour of the option which will lead to McNicoll Park Middle School shutting its doors June 30, 2016. Columbia Elementary students will feed into Skaha Lake Middle School, while Naramata and Uplands Elementary students will be moved to KVR Middle School.

The recommendation passed with only one trustee voting against it.

West Bench Elementary School also fell victim to cuts Wednesday night. Several trustees said they struggled with the option, citing it’s component of aboriginal students and the need to bus students to Penticton schools.

That option passed by a margin of four to three.

Trustees, for the most part, were not interested in seeing the City of Penticton lose one of its high schools, and voted against options which would see that eventuality occur.

They also voted against maintaining the status quo, with all but trustee Bruce Johnson saying budgets were stretched too thin to possibly maintain the existing infrastructure without cuts to staff or classrooms.

“We’re in the business of teaching kids, not heating classrooms,” board chair Linda Van Alphen pointed out.

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, 2016
InfoTel News Ltd

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