By Jim Holtz
The temporarily named Rossland School has seen an exodus of Grade nine students in its first year of operation as a K-9 facility.
Although final enrolment numbers are not in yet, Rossland School principal Karen Lavender said the new public school is down about 15 Grade 9 students from where it was last year.
Some students have opted to go J.L. Crowe Secondary in Trail while others have been lost to the Seven Summits Centre for Learning.
School District 20 board of trustees chair Darrell Ganzert the drop was a concern, but he wasn’t surprised by some students and parents opting to go to Trail.
With the Ministry of Education intent on encouraging more choice for students and parents as part of its Education Plan, there is more movement inherent in the system, he said.
“You know, the way the Ministry works these days,” Ganzert said, “children and parents have a lot more freedom then they ever had before to choose; that’s just what they are doing.
“They’re making a choice for themselves and the school district will make sure that exercising that choice will take place in the future, but it is a concern.”
Ganzert said J L Crowe offered more options and choices for students, and some parents felt since Rossland students would all be going to Trail in Grade 10 anyway, they would just as soon transfer now.
“One other comment from one parent is that her son plays hockey with kids in Trail and just sees it as an opportunity to be in that school one year earlier and allow those friendships to develop,” he said.
The high school in Trail, however, has also lost some Grade 10, 11 and 12 students to Seven Summits, Ganzert said.
“Some parents simply did not see their children going down to Crowe at all, and so some (Grade 10, 11 and 12) students will be going to the Seven Summits school,” he explained.
Some of the students who wanted to participate in the Red Mountain Academies—for downhill racing, free skiing, Nordic and snowboarding—had to attend Seven Summits.
Despite the change in enrollment, Ganzert said school staff in Rossland will not be affected.
“Generally, our district does not alter staffing at this point in time,” he said. “We will carry on with our staffing level until at least the end of the semester.”
There might be some staffing changes at that point, Ganzert predicted.
“My understanding is that we have had to add staffing at the Crowe High, but we have not had to reduce staffing in Rossland.”
A school with no name
There is still no new name for the former Rossland Secondary School, but that hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm of Lavender or her staff for the new configuration of the K-9 school.
“Our staff always puts kids first,” Lavender said, “and when I go out into the hall, I see kids with smiles on their faces. That says a lot.”
Children in kindergarten and up to Grade 5 at MacLean Elementary School have been taking their classes at the former high school, along with grades six to nine already at the school. Around 420 students are estimated to be enrolled in the school this year.
Take a bus
Ganzert said parental concerns about bussing at Rossland School are being addressed.
As of Monday, Sept. 23, a new bussing schedule that allows students more time to board busses after school has been created and is available on line at the SD20 website (http://www.sd20.bc.ca/district-news/items/id-2013-2014-rss-to-jlc-school-bus-information.html).
“That was something we heard loud and clear and so changes have been made,” said Ganzert. “A slightly more relaxed schedule has been adopted to give the children a little more time.”