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Shuswap school closure decision difficult for school district

May 13, 2015 - 7:32 PM

SALMON ARM - The closure of a rural Salmon Arm elementary school has been avoided, at least for one more year.

Faced with the decision of whether or not to close Silver Creek Elementary a majority of trustees voted to keep the school open for another year while exploring the feasibility of introducing a Montessori program to attract more students. The Silver Creek Parent Advisory Council and community at large have actively been pursuing and researching the possibility of a Montessori program, and board chair Bobbi Johnson says that legwork was very helpful for the board.

“Their attitude about their school is ‘We will do whatever we need to do.’ They worked really hard and they were really positive in the stuff they gave us,” Johnson says.

School District 83 does not have any Montessori programs at its schools, so introducing one could be a big draw.

“Trustees around the province love their programs,” Johnson says. “But I haven’t talked to one that had a rural Montessori school, most have been in urban centres.”

Closing the school would have brought savings in the $300,000 range, Johnson says, and with finances tight, Silver Creek could be back in the hot seat down the road.

“There’s no certainty. We keep an eye on all our schools, and will continue to look at Silver Creek Elementary…. When you keep open a smaller school like that, the rest of the district has to pick up in other ways,” Johnson says. “We always have to try to figure out what’s best for the kids.”

At the Tuesday, May 12, board meeting trustees also voted on several other recommendations put forward in a long-term facilities plan. The board accepted a recommendation to convert both North Shuswap Elementary and Falkland Elementary to K-8 schools (from K-7), but deferred a decision on changes to Ranchero Elementary for the time being. The board also decided to wait for a report before deciding on any changes to Parkview Elementary and Eagle River Secondary in Sicamous.

The long-term facilities plan recommends a number of school amalgamations and closures over time, and Johnson predicts it’s going to be a tough few years ahead.

“In the next couple years we’re going to have some fairly hard decisions to make,” she says. “We’re really trying to find innovative ways to make it work.”

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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