RSS is small and strong

Thank you so much to everyone who voted for Rossland’s Aviva Community Grant idea! It was an excellent vehicle for bringing our community together, raising awareness of the issues, and for sending a strong message to the school board of the importance of K-12 education in our community. Eleven different groups won grants. You can check out the winners at www.avivacommunityfund.org/search/grid.

Thank you so much to everyone who voted for Rossland’s Aviva Community Grant idea! It was an excellent vehicle for bringing our community together, raising awareness of the issues, and for sending a strong message to the school board of the importance of K-12 education in our community. Eleven different groups won grants. You can check out the winners at www.avivacommunityfund.org/search/grid.

Unfortunately, we didn’t win any money this time, but this doesn’t mean the difference between whether RSS stays open or closes. We can try again next year when hopefully everything will be more concrete and the spectre of closures is no longer looming.

• • •

In December, the Neighbourhoods of Learning committee submitted a proposal to the School District 20 Board of Education, which was explained in the Dec. 23 NOL column. If you missed it, or are interested in reading the entire proposal, you can download and read the document at vssrossland.wordpress.com/latest-news/

We will be holding a public community meeting on March 3 in the RSS gym to discuss these proposals. Some parents have concerns about the idea of having K-12 all in one building, and we plan to have representatives from other K-12 schools in our region at the meeting to help us understand how their schools work and the opportunities and benefits of housing K-12 in one building. Please mark this important date in your calendar!

• • •

The Planning for the Future Facilities Report, which was released to the public in September, recommends closing RSS in all four of its top-rated scenarios. There is much that can be discussed and debated about the facilities report, but one of the biggest issues for Rossland is that the report has very strong weighting towards larger secondary schools — this is where RSS loses most of its points.

The report is based on the underlying belief that bigger schools offer better educational opportunities, and that better educational opportunities is a fundamental goal for this school district, over and above educational outcomes. While it is agreed that larger schools may be able to offer a wider range of programming choice, there is much evidence to suggest that smaller schools offer better or equal educational outcomes.

There are no criteria or points included for many of the attributes we value about RSS and small schools in general, such as the following:

There exists a sense of pride, and an attitude and sense of personal possession and involvement on the part of students, parents, teachers, administrators, and community residents.

Morale is high. There are fewer students to be leaders in clubs and organizations and to participate in athletics and plays. Hence, students are generally exposed to more opportunity to develop leadership skills in a greater diversity of situations. Often, literally everyone must participate in order to make a project a success. This promotes among students a sense of belonging, of pride in their community, their school, and themselves. As a result, students are likely to have better attitudes toward school and less likely to create discipline problems.

Teachers are more apt to know their students as individuals and to be familiar with the family backgrounds from which they come. This enables teachers to more knowledgably make special provisions for individual needs and talents and to receive better cooperation from parents in resolving problems that may arise. Students interact more frequently and informally with the teacher and with each other. It is much more difficult for a student to fall through the cracks.

Cross-age mixing of students allows younger students exposure to lessons and expectations of older students as well as opportunities to receive personalized tutoring.

While RSS is a smaller school, it maintains the same average studentteacher ratio as J.L. Crowe and Stanley Humphries — it doesn’t cost more to staff and educate RSS students than it does at the other secondary schools.

RSS is an important option for students from the entire region. The more options available in the district, the greater chance that all students can have a successful educational experience.

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