North Okanagan-Shuswap School District officials continue to do their homework, but the final test could still be challenging.
Parents used a second meeting Monday to challenge a proposed restructuring of Enderby area schools, and particularly the concept of moving Grade 6 and 7 students from M.V. Beattie Elementary to A.L. Fortune Secondary.
“They’re still children. They’re not young adults,” said one parent among the about 60 people present.
“Moving children has a higher emotional cost. That needs more attention than you are giving it in the report,” added another parent.
Tustee Mike McKay says he understands the concerns of parents but he urged them to look at other Grade 7 to 12 schools, such as Charles Bloom in Lumby.
“The Grade 7s and older students aren’t hanging out in the same neck of the woods,” he said, adding that there would be a focus on the specific needs of Grade 6 and 7 students if they move to ALF.
“Children in Grade 7 or Grade 6/7 won’t suddenly become high school kids.”
Restructuring is being considered because of growth in Enderby and new language in the teachers’ contract on class sizes.
According to the district, M.V. Beattie will be beyond capacity in 2017/18 as a kindergarten to Grade 7 school (343 students). Under the current mandate, it is estimated to require 15 classrooms but it only has 13 classes.
The other options include installing two portable classrooms at Beattie, declaring Beattie full and returning all out of catchment students to their home schools, and redrawing the catchment areas to increase enrolment at Grindrod and Ranchero elementary schools.
Some parents have suggested expanding the elementary school, relocating the StrongStart program to Grindrod to create space and encouraging more parents to send their kids to Grindrod.
“None of the options are a home run. None of these options solves the problem now and forever,” said McKay.
Some parents have suggested that district officials are only focused on money, and that issue was tackled head-on.
“I don’t care about dollars. I care about services to students,” said Carl Cooper, director of instruction.
“When I see $80,000, I see a literacy program. When I see $50,000, I see a bus route.”
A final outcome on possible restructuring is expected May 15.
“There’s a deep commitment that the decision made is the best one for your children,” said McKay, who also challenged claims that the district has been directing the process towards students moving to ALF.
“You don’t have to believe me but the fix isn’t in.”