Questions arise over class changes at Bloom
A Lumby parent is giving the Vernon School District a failing grade over planning.
Dawne Kineshanko, whose son is currently is in Grade 6, says there will be an influx of Grade 7 and 8 students at Charles Bloom Secondary School in September but the district is refusing to hire an additional Grade 8 teacher to handle the extra pressure.
“When they closed Whitevale Elementary School 10 years ago, they knew when enrolment would go up and the time is now,” she said.
Grade 7 students have been at Bloom for a number of years but in fall 2015, a Grade 7/8 split class was formed to handle higher enrolment (there are two other strictly Grade 7 classes).
Because enrolment is expected to jump to 64 students each in Grade 7 and Grade 8 this September, Kineshanko says the school district is planning to establish five 7/8 split classes.
“There should have been a plan for this. There should be funding for this,” she said.
“I feel this model will be somewhat rushed into. They don’t have a clue what it is going to look like. Our kids will be run through this experiment and I guess let’s hope for the best! It’s not as simple as a split grade within the same level of school, like if it was an elementary level split. But it’s a combination elementary and high school split.”
Kineshanko says she’s also concerned about the impact on teachers, who will also be adjusting to a new curriculum.
“It’s a lot to ask of them,” she said.
The school district insists no decisions have been made about class composition or staffing levels.
“The school is looking at all options and one of the options is multiple grad classes,” said Joe Rogers, superintendent.
“We use a staffing formula for a school, not a grade, and for every 25 kids, you get one teacher. If it doesn’t work, we look at extra blocks. The process is just in the beginning stage”
Kineshanko questions why Lumby is the only school in the district with a Grade 7/8 split.
“I don’t think you would see this at a Vernon school. It seems like funding ends at the four lanes (Highway 6 in Coldstream). We’re always fighting for education out here.”
Rogers says multiple-grade classes are common throughout district secondary schools.
“The kids can work together,” he said.
“Bloom gets a fair share and when it doesn’t work (with programs and classes), it gets a little extra. We want to ensure the same quality at Bloom as at any of the other schools.”
Kineshanko is urging parents in Lumby and Cherryville to attend an information meeting at Bloom Thursday at 7 p.m. and the school district board meeting in Vernon Jan. 27.
“We need a lot of parents to say, ‘No, we won’t stand for this,’” she said.