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Combined campus suggested for Cumberland schools

The Comox Valley School District plans to talk to Cumberland community members about creating a combined campus for its elementary and junior secondary schools.

The idea is listed as the first recommendation in the district's Long Range Facilities Plan, which notes space imbalances between the two facilities:

"Given the current and projected imbalances between existing facility space with programs, enrolment, and associated services, at the Cumberland schools, as well as the very close facility proximities, create a combined campus with the potential for appropriate programs, enrolment, and associated services, between the two schools, maintaining an overall kindergarten to Grade 9 configuration."

District superintendent Sherry Elwood adds the idea has been in the hopper for a little while.

"It's something that we've talked about a little bit, and we haven't gone much further than I think I'm getting permission from the board (Board of Education) to pursue that idea with the community," says Elwood. "But there is just, for me, a logic around creating a combined campus in Cumberland when you have two buildings that are separated by, I don't know, a hundred-foot strip of asphalt, who have historically acted independently of each other."

She also points out Cumberland elementary enrolment numbers continue to rise making space at the school tight. Meanwhile, enrolment numbers at the junior secondary school are not rising and there's "good solid space" at that school.

"My vision of that would be is that that's a combined campus that works as a combined campus and that there's a realignment of the resources of the buildings," says Elwood, adding there would be a combined staff and administration team at the two schools. "There's just a piece to me, that is so illogical that one piece of asphalt creates two solitudes both in need of a new way of looking at being.

"There's so much permission in the Ed Plan (BC's Education Plan) now to do the multi-age groupings, to do things differently; it just makes lots of sense."

For example, she notes a possible idea where elementary aged kids could start their day off learning at the elementary school, but head over to the junior secondary school to use its gym.

Although she said any changes likely wouldn't be implemented by September, she hopes to start the conversation with the community this year to see what parents think about the combined campus idea.

The school district also plans to talk with the Village of Cumberland about potential uses of the surplus school space.

writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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