Five SD 27 schools proposed for closure

Five SD 27 schools proposed for closure

Two-campus, grades 7 to 12 secondary school suggested for Williams Lake.

Glendale, Kwaleen, and Wildwood elementary schools would be closed and Columneetza and Williams Lake secondary schools would become one grades 7 to 12 secondary school on two campuses if the new Initial Options Report proposed by the School District 27 board is implemented.

Other schools in the district that could close include 100 Mile secondary and Buffalo Creek elementary.

The restructuring plan was delivered in a PowerPoint presentation by Superintendent Mark Thiessen at a special open board meeting held at the board office in Williams Lake Tuesday evening.

Close to 70 people crammed into the meeting hall, some taking seats on the stairs, to hear the board’s proposal for dealing with financial difficulties facing the district.

Chair Will Van Osch made it clear that no decisions on the proposals will be made until after the 90-day consultation period, which will include public meetings and direct consultation with impacted stakeholders.

If approved, the plan or board-approved parts of the plan would be implemented in September 2013.

The proposal sees Glendale’s English track students moving to Cataline elementary and Glendale’s French Immersion students moving to Nesika elementary.

Wildwood’s kindergarten to Grade 3 students would move to Cataline elementary.

Students in the Kwaleen catchment area would move to Chilcotin Road elementary, with out-of-catchment students returning to their home school or other schools of choice.

The traditional school model now at Kwaleen would be discontinued. The report isn’t clear on what would happen to the year-round school model now at Glendale elementary.

After the meeting district Parent Advisory Council president Rhonda McCreight expressed concern about losing the traditional school and year-round school options.

The report says the district intends to engage an external facilitator to co-ordinate restructuring of Williams Lake and Columneetza secondary schools into a new grades 7 to 12 school with two campuses. The Grade 7s could also be located in one of the schools as a “pod” and could be afforded explorations opportunities in specialty spaces, the report states.

There are no immediate plans for changes at Likely, Big Lake and Horsefly schools east of Williams Lake.

The board continues to support the provision of kindergarten to Grade 10 schooling in communities west of the Fraser River, but Chilcotin (Zone 7) area trustee Joyce Cooper pointed out that doesn’t mean people in these communities won’t be affected by the proposed changes. She encouraged people to participate in the public consultation process.

In the south end of the district the proposal is to reconfigure all elementary schools in the area into kindergarten to Grade 8 elementary schools and make Peter Skene Ogden Senior Secondary into a grades 9 to 12 secondary school.

100 Mile House Junior Secondary would be closed and the land and buildings sold.

Buffalo Creek Elementary School would also be closed and students there moved to Forest Grove elementary.

The standard school of choice application process continues to apply in the district.

Copies of the report were handed out after the initial presentation Tuesday and the public was invited to ask questions of clarification only.

Public input will be received at upcoming public meetings and online through the district’s website.

The first public meeting will be at Williams Lake Secondary School in Williams Lake on Tuesday, Oct. 2 starting at 6:30 p.m. Meetings with teaching and support staff are scheduled for earlier in the day.

In one part of the report the board states: “This report is intended to inform and to elicit response and discussion regarding the value of these proposed changes. The options herein are well researched and supported by sound fiscal management principles, but are not yet cast in stone.”

The report is posted on the School District 27 website for the public to view. The board is expected to wrap up the public and stakeholder consultation process and prepare a report by mid-December and make decisions on the plan by the end of January.

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