As public schools around the province are closing, a local private school is hoping to expand.
Sacred Heart Catholic School is looking to build an addition to accommodate a grades 7 to 9 junior high school.
“It is really important to get feedback from parents,” says Principal Nick Iachetta, who is hosting a public information meeting Monday, Dec. 9 starting at 7 p.m. in the school gym.
Given the closing of two elementary schools and consolidation of the secondary schools in Williams Lake to accommodate Grade 7s, he said there has been more interest in Sacred Heart expanding to Grade 9.
He notes a number of students have already transferred in for Grade 7 this year.
“We’ve done a lot of research and spoken to a lot of parents in and outside the school so we are hoping for a good turnout and a lot of feedback,” Iachetta said. “The decision really is parent driven right now.”
Members of the school staff, parent support group, and school council will be at the meeting with him to answer questions.
If there is enough interest he said the school would expand to include Grade 8s next year and Grade 9s the following year.
“We have a good relationship with the public school system, but I think it is important that we offer choice for parents,” Iachetta said.
The plan is to build a new wing on the south side of the school with three or four classrooms and a lounge.
Sacred Heart currently has 15 students in grades 6 and 7.
They would need about 15 students in each of the junior secondary grades to make the project feasible.
He adds there is a lot of research to show that students do better academically in classes with smaller numbers of students and where there are fewer transitions between schools.
“We want them to be somewhat integrated into the whole school community so they are still part of the local school community but have their own identity as junior high students.
He said Sacred Heart is also looking to build community partnerships with local businesses to deliver elective courses.
Guest speakers from local businesses would be invited to speak to students and field trips would be arranged to visit local businesses.
He notes students don’t have to be Catholic to attend Sacred Heart but they will learn about Christianity in their social studies classes.
“It is a good place to learn about Christianity and good morals and values,” Iachetta said. “As important as academic studies it is important kids become compassionate contributors to society.”
He said the capital cost for the expansion would be born by the school and church.
Tuition is partially covered by Ministry of Education grants. While the public schools receive $10,000 per student he said Sacred Heart receives $5,000 per student for curriculum costs.
He adds the cost to send a student to Sacred Heart isn’t as expensive as one might think. Tuition is $2,195 per year which includes busing and supplies. There is a 25 per cent discount on the fee for a second child and a 50 per cent discount for the third child. The fourth and subsequent children in the family attend for free.