Sun Peaks looks to include middle school students at elementary school | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Sun Peaks looks to include middle school students at elementary school

Sun Peaks Elementary School is pictured in this photo from Facebook.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK / Sun Peaks Elementary Parent Advisory Council
January 22, 2020 - 3:00 PM

The small ski town of Sun Peaks is hoping to adjust the local school systems to be better equipped for the community's expected growth.

Sun Peaks Elementary principal Mike Johnson says the community is hopeful it will be able to accommodate grade eight and nine students from Sun Peaks Secondary Academy.

“A strong school helps a strong community,” Johnson says. “It’s supportive all the way around. If you have a good school, it encourages families to come to the community... it becomes this positive, cyclical nature.”

A public consultation meeting was held on Monday, Jan. 20, to discuss the proposed switch with parents and residents.

“They’re very supportive of (having) grades eight and nine at the school,” Johnson says. “It’s a growth to the community, it’s really good thing and they see it as a good thing.”

In October, the Sun Peaks Education Society, which runs Sun Peaks Secondary Academy, sent a letter to the school board about the possibility of moving the grade eight and nine students over to Sun Peaks Elementary School.

Part of the reason why the society put forth the motion was to help with the financial pressure on the ski town’s high school.

“Right now, the Sun Peaks Education Society… runs an @Kool program for the eight to twelve kids, and they do a lot of fundraising every year to do that, and so that would ease the pressure off of them,” Johnson says.

This change will ease the pressure for running the secondary school, but also help the community to adapt to population growth. When the school district took over the operation of Sun Peaks Elementary in 2012, there were 39 students. Now, Johnson says, there are currently 102 students enrolled in kindergarten through to grade seven.

“According to the forecast, it’s going to be a fairly steady (increase) in what they’re expecting,” Johnson says. “If we look historically, the school has been growing every single year, and over the next few years it looks like it will remain approximately steady.”

Johnson says if the students move over to the elementary school, a new portable will have to be put up, and a full-time teacher hired for the eight and nine split class.

“Part of that consultation is location," Johnson says. “In the long term they’re still looking to amalgamate everything into one site, but thats just part of the process.”

If the change takes place, the elementary school will change its name to Sun Peaks School to reflect the addition of middle school students.

Another change being looked at is expanding the current four-day school week to five days a week, which not all parents are agree with. The change will reflect the number of hours necessary for students to work on the in-school curriculum, and Johnson said the idea was discussed at the public consultation with various presentations.

The public consultation will be open until Feb. 14, and the decision will be announced on March 9.

For more on the school district's consultation process for Sun Peaks go here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Wheeler or call (250) 819-6089 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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