Involvement needed in planning process for Rossland schools

In a special open board meeting Monday, SD20 passed a motion to “consider possible reconfiguration/closure of Rossland schools"

Contributed by Jennifer Ellis, Neighbourhood of Learning Committee

In a special open board meeting April 30, as part of their budget process, School District 20 passed a motion to “consider possible reconfiguration/closure of Rossland schools with a decision to be made by December 31, 2012 and implementation in September, 2013.”

Options to be considered include (but are not limited to):

Making Rossland Secondary School K-12 and closing MacLean Elementary;

Making RSS K-9, closing MacLean, and sending RSS grade 10-12 students to J.L. Crowe Secondary; and

Making MacLean K-7, closing RSS, and sending RSS grade 8-12 students to Crowe Secondary.

The Board also gave first and second reading to the Annual Budget Bylaw for 2012-2013.

This is both good and bad news for Rossland. On the positive side, it appears that the School Board has been able to balance their budget this year without closing a school.

Thus it is not expected that there will be any school closures for the upcoming school year. It also appears that they are listening to Rossland residents in considering K-12 at Rossland Secondary School as a viable option. At the same time, the closure of RSS is still under consideration and will likely be discussed in detail in the fall.

This somewhat positive outcome is at least in part linked to the strong views of Rossland residents put forth in school board community meetings in 2011 and the recent Rossland Schools Survey.

The Neighbourhood of Learning Committee thanks you for your continued participation in this important issue. Your voices and views will be needed again as this discussion moves forward in the fall.

The Rossland Schools Survey highlighted that while the majority of Rossland households strongly support K-12 at RSS.

Eighty-five per cent of Rossland households listed this as their first choice for school configurations in Rossland, presuming that maintaining both an elementary and secondary school in Rossland is unlikely.

Seventy-two per cent indicated they were strongly supportive of K-12 at RSS, although the majority of these noted that they are strongly supportive if it is the only way to keep K-12 in the community.

The Rossland Schools Survey also indicated that while Rossland residents are supportive of K-12 at RSS, the reconfiguration of Rossland schools will need to be done properly with appropriate separation of younger and older children, a play space for younger children and sufficient renovations to RSS to make it a safe and welcoming place for elementary students.

If the board of education maintains an open stance about how education should be configured in Rossland, and undertakes community consultations as part of its deliberations, this could be an exciting time in Rossland as we move forward with considering how a K-12 school should look and operate, and RSS continues to move forward with its personalized learning initiatives.

The continued involvement of the community will be necessary to develop and implement a vision of K-12 in Rossland and ensure that the Board has a clear understanding of the perspectives of Rossland residents.

Watch for opportunities to get involved and make your views known this fall.

In the meantime, the District Parent Advisory Committee is starting a 360 postcard campaign to the Ministry of Education to provide more funding to our School District and underscore the fact that our district receives lower funding per capita than many of the other districts in our region.

For only $360 more in funding per student, which is still less than what neighbouring districts receive, School District No. 20 would not have had a budget shortfall this year.

Postcards will be sent home in student agendas. Simply sign the postcard and mail it to the Ministry to advocate for more education funding in our district.

An online version of the postcard is available at: http://360campaign.wordpress.com/about/