Reconfiguring Enderby Schools
Schoold District 83 plans to begin consulting with Enderby and area about reconfiguring grades in schools in Enderby.
Superintendent Glenn Borthistle noted that M.V. Beattie is now full to overflowing and, looking ahead to September, the number of students will exceed the space available. Possible options available to the district, with initial thoughts about the options, have been outlined and shared by McKay. Options presented to date are:
Option 1: Install 2 portable classrooms at M.V. Beattie Elementary in time for the 2017-18 school year. These portables would be in place for the foreseeable future, given the enrolment projections available to us at this time.
Initial comment/perspective from McKay:
"Portables are an expensive and a less than ideal remedy to address school population increases, unless an increase is seen as a short-term “blip”. Portables are extremely expensive to purchase and install and they cost more to service (utilities, cleaning and maintenance) than classrooms within the school building. Current estimates are $200,000 per portable for purchase, site preparation and installation."
Option 2: Declare M.V. Beattie full and return all out of catchment students to their home schools. This would reduce but not eliminate the space problem at M.V. Beattie.
Initial comment/perspective from McKay:
"While we may need to limit or eliminate out of catchment enrolment at M.V. Beattie going forward, I believe it would not be in the best interests of students or parents to return youngsters from M.V. Beattie to their catchment area school. In many districts when enrolments require a closure of cross-boundary transfers, that decision is made with a focus on future requests. Students who are already in a school should have the opportunity to remain there if at all possible. It is also a consideration to establish a “sibling clause” allowing younger students to attend out of catchment."
Option 3: Re-draw the catchment area/boundary maps this spring to increase the catchments for Grindrod Elementary and Ranchero Elementary.
Initial comment/perspective from McKay: "We have committed to significant long-term work on the district’s catchment areas and how our schools are organized to meet community needs now and into the future. It may not be appropriate to make “one off” boundary changes which could be further modified as part of an overall district plan."
Option 4: Adjust the grade ranges for M.V. Beattie and for A.L Fortune.
M.V. Beattie to a K-5 configuration with A.L. Fortune becoming a Grade 6-12 school;
M.V. Beattie to a K-6 configuration with A.L. Fortune becoming a Grade 7-12 school.
"Of all of the options that have been presented thus far, the two listed under Option 4 seem to do the most complete job of addressing the school capacity issues. A.L. Fortune has substantial capacity for growth, well beyond any enrolment projections over the next several years. M.V. Beattie cannot operate as a K-7 school next year or into the future without approximately $400,000 being spent from our operating budget to establish two portable classrooms. I believe those funds would be better used to provide additional teaching and/or Certified Education Assistant staff to support learning."
"I am informed by staff that either of the Option 4 choices would address the space challenge at M.V. Beattie and that there are different potential programing implications related to each of these scenarios. A.L. Fortune has some unique program features that are having very positive impacts for students, so any grade change would need to be completed without disrupting that positive momentum," added McKay.
A public consultation meeting regarding the school configuration options will take place on April 4, immediately following the Board meeting, which is being held at A.L. Fortune in Enderby.
Online survey feedback is also being sought. The survey is on the website at www.sd83.bc.ca. The survey will be open until May 5. A decision on this matter is anticipated to be made at the public board meeting on May 15.