Important information meeting on Rossland schools Tuesday

School District No. 20 has passed a motion to make a decision regarding Rossland School configurations by February 2013.

Submitted by the Neighbourhood of Learning committee

Whether you have kids in school in Rossland or not, this affects you.

As highlighted in past columns, School District No. 20 has passed a motion to make a decision regarding Rossland School configurations by February 2013 for implementation in September 2013.  The three configurations under consideration for Rossland are:

RSS grades K-12; MacLean closed

RSS grades K-9; MacLean closed; grades 10-12 at JL Crowe

RSS closed; MacLean grades K-7; grades 8-12 at JL Crowe

As part of their process, the school district has prepared a Facilities Plan Update document that is essential reading. The document can be downloaded at www.sd20.bc.ca/facilities-review-2012-2013.html

The document reviews the key issues with regard to the three configuration options for Rossland from the school district’s perspective. It also projects that K-12 student population in Rossland will grow from 550 in 2013/14 to 745 in 2029/30.

Total student population in the district is also on the rise from a low of 3,716 in 2010/11 and is expected to reach 4,492 by 2029/30. However this is not near the recent highs of 6000 students in the 1990s.

In addition, due to expected funding reductions, the school district must cut $750,000 in costs for 2013/14 and an additional $500,000 in costs for each of the two subsequent years.

So what are the essential points the School District Facilities Plan Update makes with regard to the three configurations for Rossland that are under consideration?

1. RSS grades K-12; MacLean closed: This configuration is projected to save the school district $145,000 per year, but does not calculate in potential revenues associated with the sale of MacLean to the Francophone School District. The School District postulates that with a capacity of 525, RSS may not have enough room to accommodate K-12 as there will be 550 K-12 students in 2013/14 rising to 745 K-12 students in 2029/30. However on a square footage basis, RSS is relatively large and they do not consider potential ways to increase capacity, such as renovating the shops or moving walls to convert 2 large classrooms into 3 mid-sized ones.

2. RSS grades K-9; MacLean closed; Grades 10-12 at Crowe:  This configuration is projected to save the school district $285,000 per year. The document does not indicate why this configuration saves $140,000 more than the RSS as a K-12 configuration. In this configuration, all schools fit within their capacities for at least the next 10 years based on current projections.

3. RSS closed; MacLean grades K-7; grades 8-12 at JL Crowe: This configuration is projected to save the school district $455,000 per year. However it is not clear whether this number includes costs that would be incurred for maintaining a closed RSS (which the school district seems to believe it will be able to sell), or additional administration at Crowe. A key challenge with this configuration is that MacLean has a functional capacity 324, which is continually being revised up by the school district. MacLean was designed for 232 students (the original Ministry capacity) and no changes have been made. The projected population for K-7 students is 347 in 2013/14 rising to 430 in 2029/30. Since MacLean already has the smallest square footage per student in the district, the school district knows K-7 at MacLean would make MacLean unacceptably crowded. So, it proposes using the Annex across the street for some of the classes (it does not propose an alternate location for the Francophone school) and adding a portable.

The information does not address the value of the blended learning program being implemented at RSS and the fact that representatives from school districts across the province are coming to RSS to see how the shift to more personalized learning is being done. It is interesting to note that when one combines the Ministry capacities of MacLean and RSS (232+525) it equals 757, almost the number of students we are projected to have in Rossland in 2029/30.

These decisions will have a significant effect on our community. It is CRITICAL that you make your voice heard, whether you have children or not. Prepare a submission and attend the meetings. More detailed analyses from the Neighbourhood of Learning Committee will soon be available. Read them. Important             dates are:

• Dec. 18, 2012 – Neighbourhood of Learning Information Meeting to discuss the process. 7 pm, RSS.

• Jan. 4, 2013 – Deadline for written submissions from members of the public to the school district. Email submissions to facilitiesconsult@ sd20.bc.ca.

• Jan. 15, 2013 – School District 20 Rossland Public Forum, 6:30 p.m., RSS Gym.

 

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