Although the school district has (again) closed the door on debate over keeping kindergarten to Grade 12 in Rossland, a grass roots organization is moving ahead with options to deliver grades 10 to 12 in the city for the fall.
The Neighbourhoods of Learning (NOL) committee has had two task forces working behind the scenes since the beginning of March to unearth and flesh out options for offering senior grades in the city, outside of the purview of School District 20.
The two alternatives centre around the creation of a municipal school district, not run by the City of Rossland but existing within the municipality, said NOL chair Aerin Guy. A municipal district would be a Rossland-only school district, but still part of the public system but with its own board.
She said the decision by the SD20 board of trustees Monday night did not dampen the resolve of the committee and task force members, but instead continue to work towards meeting deadlines to create kindergarten to Grade 12 education options in Rossland for fall.
“We will have options, it just depends on what will be successful,” said Guy.
NOL is currently in the process of getting an application in to the Ministry of Education for status as an independent school. The committee will have to “make a case” for status now that SD20 has closed any debate on a deal to keep the top three secondary school grades in the city.
There are currently no municipal school districts in B.C., but they are common in the U.S.
“We have discussed the possibility of this option with the (Education) deputy minister, and while he feels it isn’t impossible, it would require creation of new legal framework within the province, and would need at least two years to be put into place,” read a statement on the NOL website.
The options also include redrawing the district boundaries or forming a charter school. A charter school is essentially a public school with a greater degree of autonomy. That designation allows a school to offer programs that are significantly different from regular public schools.
School district boundaries could be redrawn to have the city become a part of the Boundary or Kootenay Lake school districts. Both SD20 and the new district would have to agree to the change.
Task force members are currently scouting locations for the school, completing ministry paperwork, and in some cases engaged in communications with the ministry on the prospect of an independent school.
“We have to explore other things because K-12 a highly valued part of the community,” said Guy.
None of the options are short-term. The task force will be working toward these goals for at least two, if not five or more years.
- For those interested in joining the task force, email firstname.lastname@example.org.