M.V. Beattie Elementary in Armstrong would remain a kindergarten-to-Grade 6 facility if student numbers allow under the North Okanagan-Shuswap school district’s long-range facilities plan. (Morning Star - file photo)

Options narrowed down for Armstrong-Enderby schools

School District 83 continues long-range facilities planning

Long-range facilities planning continues for the North Okanagan-Shuswap school district.

Trustees have recommended a particular option for schools in the Armstrong zone into the long range plan, which is still in the draft phase, and eliminated three other scenarios.

For Enderby, the board passed a recommendation that an option to include the zone stay status quo as numbers allow be included while two potential options were removed.

The board adopted the plan in October 2019 with help from Baragar Systems, which provides custom planning software for school districts, and Cascade Facilities Management Consultants Ltd., then began looking at options.

Trustees voted in favour of Armstrong schools being reconfigured to Kindergarten to Grade 4 at the elementary level, a grades 5-7 middle school and high school returning to grades 8-12.

Currently, Armstrong Elementary and Highland Park Elementary are Kindergarten to Grade 5. Len Wood Middle school is grades 6-8 and Pleasant Valley Secondary School is grades 9-12.

“Both Baragar and Cascade forecast that growth will continue to grow in Armstrong/Spallumcheen, and if so, we will need a solution to accommodate students in the elementary schools,” said Tenille Lachmuth, trustee for Armstrong-Spallumcheen and Columbia Shuswap Regional District electoral area D, Falkland. “Armstrong (Elementary) has been full for a couple of years and Highland Park has minimal room for growth.”

Lachmuth said through the district’s consultation process (which included her visiting schools, a board town hall and survey), she heard from parents, staff and community that this option had the most support.

“It maintains closest to status quo as possible, allows us to keep the middle school model, and doesn’t require the purchase of portables from core funding,” she said.

Options eliminated from the draft plan included providing more elementary space by converting the Gateway building to a Kindergarten-to-Grade 2 primary school, and purchasing a new site for, and constructing, a small elementary school. Also taken out of the plan was changing the zone to Kindergarten-to-Grade 7 and grades 8-12 and changing Falkland Elementary-Middle to K-7.

Changing Len Wood Middle School to a K-6 school and have the three elementary schools feed PVSS, and converting Falkland to K-6, was also removed.

In Enderby/Grindrod, M.V. Beattie Elementary is currently K-6, and Grindrod Elementary is K-7. A.L. Fortune Secondary is for students in grades 7-12. Things will remain that way in the draft plan while student numbers allow.

Eliminated from the plan were changes similar to the Armstrong zone which would have included an option of sending all Enderby grades 6-8 students to Len Wood Middle School in Armstrong, then returning to Enderby for grades 9-12, combining Beattie and Grindrod Elementary and changing them both to K-5, and expanding Fortune to grades 6-12.

The two sets of consultants, said Lachmuth, disagreed on potential growth in Enderby.

Enderby school trustee Quentin Bruns, like Lachmuth, voted in favour of the new options, and was in complete agreement with his colleague when she said, regarding the Enderby zone, “I heard from the community that K-7 is still desired at Grindrod, and I am glad our district can continue to maintain that option for parents for now, pending actual growth that may necessitate change in future.”

Trustees and school district staff have indicated throughout the consultation process that no change would come for September 2020, with possible changes being considered for September 2021, as needed.

“COVID has changed the landscape a little here, and more information on enrolment for this September and trends around housing and employment will factor in,” said Lachmuth.

The process to develop a final draft will continue at a committee of the whole meeting in June.

READ MORE: Enderby grad wins national award for leadership in music



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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