Seeking input on configuration of schools in the Enderby area . . .
District staff have been planning for the 2017-18 school year over the past month, reviewing anticipated school populations by grade and looking at the available space to offer programs to support student learning.
Another dimension has been added to that complex work this year. As you have likely heard, the Province and the BC Teachersâ€™ Federation have reached an agreement to address the outcome of the Supreme Court ruling. That agreement restores contract language which was in place prior to 2002, and it will have significant impact on class size and composition going forward. This is positive news and means that we will have additional resources to support all learners.
In the Enderby area, consideration of all of the factors (grade cohort sizes, class composition, programs, and space requirements for non-enrolling teachers to provide services to students) means that we are faced with a significant space challenge at M.V. Beattie Elementary. In brief, the schoolâ€™s enrolment next year and into the longer-term future cannot be accommodated within the school building.
I have asked staff to give priority attention to developing options to address this challenge. Below, I have included those options, and have provided my initial thoughts regarding each one. I am sharing those in advance not to indicate that a decision has been made, but rather to activate the consultation that will occur over the coming weeks. The decisions I must make later in the spring will be informed by community feedback and dialogue.
Here are the options presented to date:
Option 1: Install 2 portable classrooms at M.V. Beattie Elementary in time for the 2017-18 school year. These portables would be in place for the foreseeable future, given the enrolment projections available to us at this time.
Portables are an expensive and a less than ideal remedy to address school population increases, unless an increase is seen as a short-term â€śblipâ€ť. Portables are extremely expensive to purchase and install and they cost more to service (utilities, cleaning and maintenance) than classrooms within the school building. Current estimates are $200,000 per portable for purchase, site preparation and installation.
Option 2: Declare M.V. Beattie full and return all out of catchment students to their home schools. This would reduce but not eliminate the space problem at M.V. Beattie.
While we may need to limit or eliminate out of catchment enrolment at M.V. Beattie going forward, I believe it would not be in the best interests of students or parents to return youngsters from M.V. Beattie to their catchment area school. In many districts when enrolments require a closure of cross-boundary transfers, that decision is made with a focus on future requests. Students who are already in a school should have the opportunity to remain there if at all possible. It is also a consideration to establish a â€śsibling clauseâ€ť allowing younger students to attend out of catchment
Option 3: Re-draw the catchment area/boundary maps this spring to increase the catchments for Grindrod Elementary and Ranchero Elementary.
Initial comment/perspective: We have committed to significant long-term work on the districtâ€™s catchment areas and how our schools are organized to meet community needs now and into the future. It may not be appropriate to make â€śone offâ€ť boundary changes which could be further modified as part of an overall district plan.
Option 4: Adjust the grade ranges for M.V. Beattie and for A.L Fortune.
M.V. Beattie to a K-5 configuration with A.L. Fortune becoming a Grade 6-12 school;
M.V. Beattie to a K-6 configuration with A.L. Fortune becoming a Grade 7-12 school.
Of all of the options that have been presented thus far, the two listed under Option 4 seem to do the most complete job of addressing the school capacity issues. A.L. Fortune has substantial capacity for growth, well beyond any enrolment projections over the next several years. M.V. Beattie cannot operate as a K-7 school next year or into the future without approximately $400,000 being spent from our operating budget to establish two portable classrooms. I believe those funds would be better used to provide additional teaching and/or Certified Education Assistant staff to support learning.
I am informed by staff that either of the Option 4 choices would address the space challenge at M.V. Beattie and that there are different potential programing implications related to each of these scenarios. A.L. Fortune has some unique program features that are having very positive impacts for students, so any grade change would need to be completed without disrupting that positive momentum.
Public Consultation Meeting
Tuesday, April 4 at 6 p.m. â€“ Public Board Meeting at A.L. Fortune Secondary School in Enderby and a public consultation meeting regarding the school configuration options immediately following the Board meeting.
Online Survey feedback
Please share your opinions in this short online survey by clicking here.
This survey will be open until Friday, May 5. A decision on this matter will be made at the Public Board meeting on Monday, May 15.
Important upcoming dates
Just a quick reminder that Spring Vacation runs from March 20-31 with schools re-opening on Monday, April 3.
Kindergarten registration is scheduled for Wednesday, April 5 at your neighbourhood school. Please contact your neighbourhood school for further information.
French Immersion kindergarten registration will also be held on April 5 at the District Education Support Centre (DESC) starting at 7 a.m.
March 2017 Staying Connected . . . a message from Official Trustee Mike McKay
Planning ahead? The 2017-18 calendar is available here.
StrongStart for newborns to age 5 and their parents or caregivers
StrongStart is a free school-based program that provides play-based early learning opportunities for children (0 to 5 years old) and their parents or caregivers. Click here for brochure.
Our full-time StrongStart programs run five days a week for three hours a day at the following locations: District Education Support Centre (Salmon Arm), South Broadview Elementary (Salmon Arm), MV Beattie Elementary (Enderby), Highland Park Elementary (Armstrong), and Parkview Elementary (Sicamous). Families are welcome to drop in for all or just part of the program on any day the program is running. There are also part-time programs at Sorrento, Falkland and North Shuswap.
Please note that in order to accommodate the construction schedule at Carlin, the StrongStart program at Carlin will be moved to Sorrento on Mondays starting in September until construction is completed (likely December or January). At that time, the Carlin StrongStart program will then move back to Carlin and run on Mondays.
â€śWe are so fortunate to have such an awesome team of Early Childhood Educators!â€ť comments Early Learning Co-ordinator Jennifer Findlay.
For more information about StrongStart or other early learning programs please look for Early Learners under the drop down menu for Parents and Students on this website or call co-ordinator Jennifer Findlay at 250 833 2095. The 2016-17 StrongStart schedule is available here.
Office Hours . . .
The District Education Support Centre (DESC) is located at 341 Shuswap St. SW in Salmon Arm. Regular office hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. We can be reached at (250) 832-2157.
Our Mission is to engage all students in meaningful and relevant learning experiences that develop their knowledge, skills, attitudes, creativity and the pursuit of personal success.
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