SD20 puts RSS back on the chopping block for this coming fall

Andrew Bennett
By Andrew Bennett
December 6th, 2012

School District No. 20 (SD20) released three packages of “background information”  on Monday to prepare the public for a series of upcoming forums in SD20’s 2012-2013 facilities review.

Of particular interest to Rossland is the backgrounder for the Greater Trail area (available here) in which SD20 staff make the case for cutting Grades 10 to 12 from Rossland Secondary School (RSS).

The decision between three options—1) K-12 at RSS, MacLean closed, 2) K-9 at RSS, MacLean closed, and 3) K-7 at MacLean, RSS closed—must be made by Feb. 28 and will be implemented for the 2013-2014 school year.

The first option, the report projects, would save SD20 about $145,000 per year “after the initial transition is complete.” The second option would save $285,000 per year, and the third option about $455,000 per year, also ignoring transition costs.

The SD20 reports that “births in our catchment are up” with a “moderately positive” trend. This is important, because the province funds school districts on a per pupil basis despite the fact that, as many commentators have pointed out, this disadvantages rural districts.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Education has announced an end to the “funding protections” introduced in 2007 to maintain funding levels in districts experiencing declining enrolment.

This means that, even with optimistic enrolment projections, SD20 is under some serious financial pressure and needs to cut about $1.5 million from the budget this year, followed by a further reduction of about $750,000 next year, and another $1 million by the 2015-2016 school year.

In the report, SD20 staff make the case that Rossland’s schools are a problem because “underutilized capacity at RSS means money [is] being spent on buildings rather than programs.”

The crux of the report is a series of bar charts that predicts RSS will have insufficient capacity (by about three to five classrooms) to operate as a K-12 school between now and 2020. By 2030, the report projects that RSS would be short 10 classrooms.

If RSS were K-9, the report said, RSS would be under capacity by three classrooms in 2013, at capacity by 2020, and over capacity by three classrooms in 2030.

At the same time, the additional Grade 10-12 students sent down the hill to Trail would bring JL Crowe Secondary (JLC) to just below its capacity, the report predicts.

The final option of MacLean at K-7 and RSS closed, according to the report, would immediately put MacLean one classroom short, and by 2020 it would be short five classrooms. Meanwhile, the influx to JLC from RSS would put JLC over its capacity.

The report also includes SD20 staff’s list of pros and cons to each of the three options.

Neighbourhoods of Learning wrote, “Please note that there will be a cruical NOL INFORMATION MEETING this coming Tuesday, Dec. 18, at 7pm at RSS to discuss the February 2014 SD20 final decision on K-12 in Rossland. Come find out what’s happening and what needs to be done before then. This is the real thing, Rosslanders – it’s critical we make our views known so the board can make the best decision for our children and community!”

Written submissions will be considered by the SD20 board, but they must be received by Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, either by email or regular mail. Submissions will be posted on the district website.

To write to SD20 about the proposal to close Rossland schools, email facilitiesconsult@sd20.bc.ca or write to:
   Facilities Consultation
   School District No. 20 (Kootenay-Columbia)
   Suite 120 – 1290 Esplanade
   Trail, BC  V1R 4T2


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