Armstrong calls for no school closures

The possibility of closing a school in Armstrong is not sitting well with a group of teachers, employees and parents

The possibility of closing a school in Armstrong is not sitting well with a group of teachers, employees and parents.

A letter to Spallumcheen council signed by 20 teachers and support workers at Armstrong Elementary calls for the North Okanagan-Shuswap School District to consider keeping all four of the city’s schools open and operational.

“All of our four main schools have a lot to offer, be it playing fields, parks or gyms, that are utilized by the whole community and make it a wonderful place to live,” states the letter.

“Each school has more than 250 students. Please do not let our school district sell off our schools.”

School district trustees held a committee of the whole meeting Tuesday to discuss input gathered at three town hall meetings in Armstrong, Enderby and Salmon Arm, as well as input collected via letter or e-mail.

After two-and-a-half hours of discussion, recommendations that will be brought forward as motions at the Feb. 9 public board meeting include amalgamating the current four Armstrong and area schools into two kindergarten to Grade 7 schools, and one Grade 8-12 secondary school.

That means one of the four schools would close with AES as the potential leading candidate.

“This is a short-term plan,” said Jamie Schrauwen, who has two kids at AES and is the school’s Parent Advisory Council treasurer.

“We have three kindergarten classes at AES. Eventually, those kids need to go somewhere.”

The teachers see no benefit to Armstrong and Spallumcheen in closing any of its schools, particular the “old brick school” on Pleasant Valley Road.

“Armstrong Elementary School looks like a school, functions like a school, it is a school,” wrote the teachers. “It is historically the first consolidated school in B.C. and a proud showcase for this district.

“We are not a museum.”

There are currently fourth generations of family members at the school which has been the hub of the community for more than a century.

“When you think of Armstrong, you think of that school,” said Kim Weston, who has two children attending AES.

Said Schrauwen: “If this school were to close, it would break my heart.”

A petition stating “We, the people of Armstrong and Spallumcheen, DO NOT want any school to close and would continue to look at other areas for cost savings,” had garnered nearly 300 signatures by noon Thursday.

The petition is available at the Armstrong library, Nor-Val Rentals, post office, Fortune Creek Pharmacy and Margarieta’s Place restaurant.

Spallumcheen council voted to invite either Armstrong-Spallumcheen trustee, Bob Fowler or Kelly Rowe, to an upcoming council meeting to update the situation.

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