School district rules out K-12 in Rossland

The first bylaw reading in favour of K-12 was voted down 6-3 by the School District 20 (SD20), board of trustees.

Kindergarten to Grade 12 in Rossland is off the table.

Monday night at Trail Middle School (TMS), the last chapter was written in the story of Rossland’s fight to keep kindergarten to Grade 12 in its city.

The first bylaw reading in favour of K-12 was voted down 6-3 by the School District 20 (SD20), board of trustees.

It was a disappointing ending for Aerin Guy, coordinator for Neighbourhoods of Learning (NOL).

“The bottom line is that there is not going to be high school grades in Rossland.”

Moving forward, there are two remaining options that trustees will debate at a second reading on Feb. 12 at Rossland Secondary School (RSS).

The first configuration is kindergarten through Grade 9 at RSS, which will close McLean Elementary. The second option to go to vote will be to close RSS and keep kindergarten through Grade 7 at McLean.

“We’ve had a lot of new information from the forum and PAC (parent’s advisory committee), so we bounce back and forth between the options,” said Darrell Ganzert, SD20 board chair.

Guy opined that if the board was going to kill the configuration of K-12, then why didn’t they say that when the open house was held at RSS in January.

“Why wait until there was only a handful of us at TMS to shoot it down?”

Guy is hoping that there can be some legal recourse, or assistance from the Ministry of Education to overturn the board’s decision.

Her stance is that this decision has many implications to the Rossland community.

“It effectively kills the blended learning program, and renders the ski academy future as uncertain.”

Ganzert did provide a glimmer of hope to Rosslanders by saying that there may be a possibility to rescind a motion; but something “dramatic” would have to change in the City of Rossland.

He told the Rossland News that if something came forward from the city, in sharing resources, then the information would be made available to the trustees.

Ganzert said any changes would have to pass the provincial government’s requirements.

“An action to close the school really hasn’t taken place until we are putting boards up on the windows,” said Ganzert.

The meeting next week is an open public meeting.

“Members of the public can listen to the debate, but the board does not entertain questions from the floor.” explained SD20 superintendent of schools, Greg Luterbach.

“Decisions don’t get debated or re-debated at the second or third reading. When the majority voted not in favour of the bylaw, the issue is done.”

The final date for the third reading is Monday, Feb. 25.

In January, a public forum was held to discuss the possible closure of either RSS or McLean Elementary School by SD20.

The SD20 board of trustees was looking for a cost cutting measure as it grappled with a $1.75 million funding shortfall over the next three years.

The school district as a whole has been dropping in enrolment since the mid 1990’s from nearly 6,000 students to around 3,900.

The district spends 88 per cent of its funds on staff, which only leaves 12 per cent (about $4 million) to pay for everything else, including supplies, equipment, utilities, insurance, phones and gasoline.

The future of Castlegar schools hangs in the balance, as a second reading is scheduled for Feb. 13.

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