Neighbourhood of Learning calls Rossland school supporters to action

Watch for the discussions regarding Rossland school configurations to heat up again soon.

Watch for the discussions regarding Rossland school configurations to heat up again soon.

School District 20 has rescinded its original motion to make a decision regarding Rossland school configurations by Dec. 31, 2012 and passed a motion to make a decision by February 2013. They’ve hired a facilitator, Ms. Wendy Herbert, a retired Superintendent from the Gulf Islands, to help guide the board and staff through the public consultations and final steps of the facilities review.

The process will include the opportunity for written submissions from the public and public consultation sessions in both of the affected communities – Rossland and Castlegar. It is critical that you make your voice heard.

The School Board has committed to the following key dates. Please put them on your calendar now!

Dec. 3, 2012 – Release of background information in preparation for the public forms

Jan. 4, 2013 – Deadline for written submissions from members of the public

Jan. 15, 2013 – Rossland Public Forum 6:30 p.m. at RSS Gym

The School Board has committed to making a final decision regarding any configuration changes by the end of February 2013 for implementation in September 2013.

To help Rossland residents prepare for the public forum and write submissions to the School Board, the Neighbourhood of Learning Committee is holding a public information session on Tuesday, Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. at RSS. NOL Committee members will provide a presentation on key things to think about in preparing a submission or participating in the public forum and answer any questions that you might have. We also want to hear your thoughts.

Key things to remember:

MacLean Elementary is already full with K-5 students. It already has the least amount of space per student in the district. K-7 would not fit at MacLean Elementary and trying to do so would result in severe overcrowding, and no room for future growth.

Rossland’s entire K-7 population has never fit in MacLean. When MacLean was a K-7 school, Cooke Avenue school was in operation and housed half the K-7 students in Rossland. Kindergarten was also only half a day.

The Francophone School District has expressed an interest in buying MacLean Elementary if it is closed by the School District, which would mean that the district collects revenue on the sale, does not have to pay for maintenance of an empty building and MacLean School would continue to be a community asset.

Blended Learning at RSS is leading the way for implementing B.C.’s New Education Plan and personalized learning in the School District and in the province. Superintendents, trustees, principals and teachers from across the province have been visiting RSS to see the innovative new approaches to learning.

In the recent Rossland Schools Survey completed by 468 Rossland residents, 75 per cent of respondents indicated that maintaining grades 8-12 in Rossland was very important and 85 per cent ranked K-12 at RSS as their first choice for Rossland school configurations, assuming that maintaining both MacLean Elementary and RSS was an unlikely option.

Rossland Schools Survey respondents indicated that if RSS closed they would be concerned about:

-the loss of community in Rossland,

-the ability of Rossland to continue to attract families,

-the economic and social impacts on the community,

-the loss of community spaces,

-the difficulties of participating in after school extracurricular activities for their children,

-the safety of young drivers and busing in the winter, and

-the environmental impacts of busing and driving 200 kids to Trail.

One respondent observed: “A school is the foundation to any community. No school = No community = No town. Simple!”

It is critical that you make your voice heard in this process. Put the dates on your calendar. Get informed. Send in a submission. Come to the meetings.

For more information visit the Visions for Small School’s website.

 

Jennifer Ellis, Neighbourhood of Learning

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