Consultations set for Puntledge school closure discussions

“It’s important to be clear the board has not made a decision on this.” – Russell Horswill

  • Nov. 18, 2015 11:00 a.m.

 

 

The Comox Valley School District is hosting a series of public consultations about a long-range facilities plan, which includes the possible relocation of École Puntledge Park Elementary to Lake Trail School. The latter is only half full in terms of student enrolment.

The district has already met with parents to determine if Courtenay and Arden elementary schools should be configured as Kindergarten to Grade 7.

“We have Grade 7 in almost all of our schools,” SD71 secretary-treasurer Russell Horswill said. “We just have a K to 6 anomaly on the West Courtenay side. We’re looking at changing that to be a similar structure across the district.”

The discussion also involves a proposed boundary change at Courtenay Elementary to balance student enrolment.

Consultations regarding the proposed closure at Puntledge will be held Nov. 25 and 30, Dec. 7 and, if needed, Jan. 6. Sessions run from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the school at 401 Willemar Ave. A working committee will be formed at the first meeting.

“It’s important to be clear the board has not made a decision on this. All they’ve done is made a motion to engage the community in a consultation,” Horswill said.

The plan also proposes boundary changes to balance enrolments — and programming — at the three Valley high schools. Vanier Secondary has about 1,200 students while Highland has just 625. Enrolment at Mark Isfeld is about 900.

Secondary boundary meetings will be held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Dec. 1 at Vanier, Dec. 2 at Highland and Dec. 3 at Isfeld.

“It’s driven by a couple of things. One, we’re looking at increasing the enrolment at Highland,” Horswill said. “That school is under-utilized. Over time we’d like to get that school up into the eight- or 900-student range.”

Consultants/retired educators Clyde Woolman and Bill Village will run a separate consultation process for the structure of French immersion programs. Dates have yet to be set.

As it stands, SD71 has dual track (English and French) at Puntledge and single track (French only) at École Robb Road in Comox. A recommendation is to move to dual track programs at Robb Road and at Airport Elementary at the base. Proposed changes could potentially save the district about $720,000 on an ongoing basis.

The community is encouraged to visit sd71.bc.ca for more information. Click on Long Range Facilities Plan at the right.

Feedback from the public will be compiled and provided to SD71 Supt. Sherry Elwood.

A school closure public meeting will be held in February, at which time Elwood will present a report to the school board. In March, the board will render a final decision on closure and French immersion.

 

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