No reason to close schools in Armstrong, Silver Creek, report says - InfoNews

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No reason to close schools in Armstrong, Silver Creek, report says

Official School District 83 trustee Mike McKay
December 09, 2016 - 3:30 PM

SALMON ARM - Possible school closures in the North Okanagan and Shuswap may be off the books.

A School District 83 staff report indicates there is no compelling reason to consider closing schools in the Armstrong and Salmon Arm areas.

The former board of education, which was fired by the province last June, put the brakes on closing Armstrong Elementary School and Silver Creek Elementary last March when it extended the public consultation period by a year. Official trustee Mike McKay was appointed by the province to take over.

According to a report that will be discussed at a school board meeting next Tuesday, Dec. 13, McKay has been engaging with communities about potential school closures for the past few months. McKay has a four part test for closures that includes assessing the school’s physical condition, its population, whether the district is in “such dire financial circumstances that significant cuts in all areas of operations are required” and whether the school has “lost the community’s confidence regarding its ability to provide quality student learning.”

“Financial circumstances for the district are improving – the district is out of funding protection two years earlier than was originally anticipated and has seen a significant increase in overall enrolment in the current year. As well, additional funding sources have been received (and committed to in future years) by the Ministry in the current year,” the report states.

It’s also possible some schools may be eligible for the new Rural Enhancement Education Fund, which was created to replace any identified cost savings from the closure of a rural school.

The report goes on to say there is no compelling reason to contemplate school closures in the Armstrong and Salmon Arm areas and recommends ending school consultation periods in both communities.

The district has also been looking at closing Parkview Elementary in Sicamous and creating a single Kindergarten to Grade 12 school. The district does not currently have the funds to renovate Eagle River Secondary into a Kindergarten to Grade 12 school, and the report says further information is needed to make a recommendation.

A full district review will be completed by December 2017 into demographics, school configurations and catchment areas.

The recommendations are not final and will be considered by McKay at the Dec. 13 board meeting at 6 p.m. at the board office in Salmon Arm (341 Shuswap St. SW).

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston or call 250-309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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