Opinion

Two very important meetings

Warning! Lots of numbers ahead. But stick with it — there is some important information in this column.

In the Facilities Report released by the school district this fall, three of the top-rated scenarios see RSS closing, and MacLean becoming a K-7 school. This is based on the assumption that K-7 will fit in MacLean Elementary. When you take a closer look at the numbers, it becomes clear that this is not a good solution.

Using SD20’s enrolment projections for 2015-16 (which has MacLean growing every year) if you put K-7 into MacLean you will end up with a capacity of 101.27 per cent based on the Maximum Functional Capacity, or 112.37 per cent based on the Average Functional Capacity. (Maximum and Average Functional Capacity are two numbers the district uses to calculate the number of students that can attend a school, Maximum Functional Capacity meaning the maximum.)

If we move the 6s and 7s over for the 2011-12 school year, the school will immediately be at 90.45 per cent Maximum Capacity or 100.35 per cent Average Capacity. This does not include any space for our extremely successful Strong Start program. If MacLean gets more than 44 kindergarten children (it’s full this year), children will have to be turned away as there won’t be room for an additional class, even if they live in Rossland. There is no long- or short-term room for additional growth.

So if K-7 were fit into MacLean, Strong Start taken away, and a portable added to fit all the classes, how would that look? When you work out the square metres per student with K-7 in MacLean, there would be 7.93 square metres per student for 2011-12, reducing to 6.75 sq. m. per student for 2015-16 as the projected enrolment grows. If you include a portable, it works out to 7.03 sq. m. per student for 2015-16.

The smallest amount of square metres per student at any of the other schools in SD20 is Twin Rivers at 9.35, which doesn’t include its portable. The space per student ranges from 9.35 sq. m. up to 19 sq. m. at Webster. The average across the district, without portables, is 11.96 sq. m. per student. This number is even higher if you include portables.

The MacLean schoolyard is also undersized for an elementary school, with only 1.1 hectares of land instead of the required 1.6 hectares (which is why MacLean was built to be partially subterranean with a playground on the roof). This will be reduced if a portable or portables are added.

Therefore, if one of those three scenarios were to take place, not only would Rossland lose its high school, but our elementary students would have far less space than any other school in the district.

MacLean already has the second lowest cost per student in the district. Turning it into a K-7 school will make it a veritable bargain to run. RSS, on the other hand, currently has the third highest cost per student. But if you turn RSS into a K-12 school, it brings the cost per student at $8770, which puts it right in the middle of all the SD20 schools.

The fourth scenario has RSS closing, MacLean remaining as a K-5 school, grades 6-8 at Trail Middle School, and grades 9-12 and the alternate programs at J.L. Crowe, which would mean sending our kids out of town from grade 6 onwards. Fruitvale Elementary, however, would remain a K-7 school, with their children moving to TMS for grade 8 and on to Crowe for grade 9. This scenario would physically fit better than K-7 at MacLean, but seeing that Rossland has clearly shown that they want to keep K-12 in our community, it is obviously even less acceptable to have grade 6 onwards leave, than grade 8 onwards.

IMPORTANT UPCOMING MEETINGS:

The Neighbourhoods of Learning community meeting will take place Tuesday, March 1 at 6:30 p.m. in the RSS Gym. We plan to have representatives from other K-12 schools at the meeting to help us understand how their schools work and the opportunities and benefits of a K-12 school.

The school board’s Planning for the Future Focus Group Meeting for Rossland takes place the next night, Wednesday, March 2, from 6:30-9:30 p.m. in the RSS gym.

The meetings are being held two nights in a row, which is a heavy schedule, but it is important that as many Rosslanders as possible attend both of these meetings. Please mark these important dates in your calendar!

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