Grindrod avoids closure

Grindrod Elementary doesn’t appear to be in the equation of potential school closures anymore

Grindrod Elementary doesn’t appear to be in the equation of potential school closures anymore, which has garnered top marks from Enderby.

The North Okanagan-Shuswap School District  board met Tuesday to go over the vast amount of feedback from recent town hall meetings. The meetings were held to gauge the public’s thoughts, since potential changes are on the books – the district needs to address a shortfall of $3.6 million over the next three years, including $1.3 million in 2016/17.

Enderby Mayor Greg McCune is pleased to see his community’s message was heard loud and clear that Grindrod Elementary is not an option for closure.

“I’m glad they’re heading down that road, that’s great news,” said McCune.

Enderby is a growing area, therefore it doesn’t make sense to close any of its schools, he said.

“Enderby’s on the upswing. We have the kids, we need the schools to stay open and thriving.”

He points to the downturn in Alberta, which the province of B.C. recently said has resulted in 5,000 new students being registered for schools.

Instead, McCune said perhaps some student should be moved to Grindrod to ease the pressure at M.V. Beattie, which was built for 280 but currently has approximately 320 students.

“Let’s look at the busing and see who goes right past their (Grindrod’s) door.”

Turning Grindrod into a French Immersion school has also been suggested.

“French Immersion is huge, in Salmon Arm there’s lineups and some people actually sleep overnight (to enroll their kids),” said McCune.

He also suggests moving Grade 7 to A.L. Fortune, but not Grade 6.

Meanwhile in Armstrong, where one school could be closed, the option was expected.

“Something has to happen,” said Mayor Chris Pieper. “We knew we were probably going to go from four to three schools.”

It’s likely Armstrong Elementary will be closed.

“There’s a lot of passionate heritage over the brick school for sure,” said Pieper, adding that the other schools are larger and newer.

He also says it was obvious from the town hall meetings that residents don’t want grades 6 to 12 in one school.

The recommendations would need to be passed as motions by the school district board, but any school configuration change would require a 60-day consultation period.