Possible school closures focus of public meetings

North Okanagan-Shuswap School District officials will meet with residents Thursday (today)

Armstrong, Spallumcheen and Enderby residents are being asked for input on changes that could ultimately lead to some schools closing.

The North Okanagan-Shuswap School District is launching town hall meetings, with the first one today (Thursday) at Pleasant Valley Secondary School at 6:30 p.m.

“The meetings are an effort by the board to communicate with communities about the board’s educational vision, present some of the challenges in delivering that education (financial, programming and capacity challenges), and listen to feedback from the public on possible options or alternatives,” states a district release.

The process is a result of ongoing financial challenges and recommendations in the recent facilities report include closing Len Wood Middle School in Armstrong and reconfiguring PVSS to Grades 6 to 12 between 2017 and 2019. It also suggests in 2016, closing Grindrod Elementary, converting Enderby’s M.V. Beattie Elementary to kindergarten to Grade 5 and reconfiguring A.L. Fortune Secondary to Grades 6 to 12.

According to district figures, it anticipates a shortfall of $3.6 million over the next three years, including $1.3 million in 2016/17.

School district officials insist no decisions have been made.

“If at a later date there is a school closure motion put forward, a separate consultation  process would have to be held,” said Alice Hucul, with school district communications.

There will be a town hall meeting Jan. 21 at 6:30 p.m. at A.L. Fortune Secondary School in Enderby.