Kootenay Lake School District No. 8 moves slowly with facilities draft plan
Slowly, but surely, Kootenay Lake School District No. 8 is moving along with its facilities draft plan.
The first major decision coming for the upcoming school term appears to have Yahk Elementary School will be closing for 2016-2017.
However, the school will not close permanently, but with an expected enrolment of zero students it comes as no surprise that the school will likely not be operating in the future.
“Because the Board has not yet completed the Facilities Planning Process, and recognizing that there is a projected enrolment of zero students for Yahk Elementary School for next year, the Board did make a decision to close the school for the 2016- 2017 school year,” according to an SD8 press release.
“The Board did not make a decision to close the school permanently.”
Kootenay Lake School Board has been meeting with the public for most of the spring to discuss how to proceed with the SD8 facilities draft plan.
During the meeting on May 3, the board advanced six more schools for a “consideration of closure” process, which is a 60-day period during which trustees will carefully consider all options before deciding to close a school.
Other schools being considered for potential closure include Winlaw Elementary School, Creston Education Centre, Salmo Elementary School, Trafalgar Middle School, and Jewett Elementary School.
However, the board made sure to mention that this does not mean they have decided to close these six schools, only that that they will further consider each option.
“The Consideration of Closure process includes a community consultation meeting in each community where a school closure is being considered. As well, email addresses for each school being considered will be set up for input,” according to the press release.
The process has been a long and tedious one for board members, teachers and parents, but it isn’t over yet. The board will continue to deliberate over the summer months, and input from everyone concerned is welcomed.
While the closure of Yahk and the potential closure of other schools won’t solve the problems, it’s a step in the right direction, said Kim Morris, secretary-treasurer for the School District 8 board.
“The plan does not “solve” the facilities crunch for SD8,” Morris said.
“If all of the scenarios in the plan come to fruition the board can reduce its deferred maintenance future costs from $83m to $63m and its empty seats from 1751+ to 600+. $63m still being a daunting number but better than $83m. It is a huge step in the right direction.”
Trafalgar Middle School has been a prime selection for closure, but nothing is set in stone yet. The process will continue with two special meetings on July 5th and 12th.
“The Board approved two special meetings, one on July 5, 2016 for School Closure Bylaw Readings 1 and 2, and one on July 12, 2016 for School Closure Bylaw Reading 3. It is at these meetings where the Board’s final decision regarding the school closures will be made,” said the press release.
Morris echoed these statements, saying that the situation with Trafalgar is “fluid” and dependent on other factors, like the addition being built at Blewett Elementary School.
“If the board adopts the decision by July 12, to close Trafalgar, the timeline to implement the closure of Trafalgar will be fluid because it is dependent on an addition being made to Blewett Elementary School. Until the addition construction is complete and Blewett is made bigger there is not enough room in schools to make the scenario fit,” Morris said.
“So the Board could make the decision to close the school by July 12 with the timeline to actually implement the closing of the doors as an educational facility determined at some point in the future.”
While no dates for community meetings have been set, concerns and input can be sent to the following:
To view the draft plan, please go to this link.