Denman and Hornby schools face uncertain future

The future of Denman and Hornby Islands' elementary schools is up in the air.

The future of the Denman Island Community School is uncertain.

The future of the Denman Island Community School is uncertain.

The future of Denman and Hornby Islands’ elementary schools is up in the air.

According to School District 71’s Long Range Facilities Plan, the schools have small and declining enrolments and one of the district’s 14 recommendations in the report is to “consider alternative educational programming models for Denman Island and Hornby Island schools.”

SD71 superintendent Sherry Elwood said there is no list of what those ‘alternatives’ may be right now because the district needs to explore them first, but she said community meetings will be held on the Islands in the spring.

“I did serve notice that we’d have to have a fairly deep conversation in the spring of this year about what the future is for the Island schools — and we will do that,” said Elwood. “And that’s not coming from a place that we have any appetite to close (the schools) at all, but I had to be honest and say there is a time when we look at the viability, educationally, of school populations and we might need to make different decisions.”

According to the Long Range Facilities Plan, Denman Island Community School has room for 89 students. However, in 2011, 33 students were enrolled in the kindergarten to Grade 7 school. The projected enrolment is 26 students in 2016 and 22 students in 2021.

Hornby Island Community School, which is also a kindergarten to Grade 7 school, has room for 135 students; 37 students were enrolled in 2011, and the same numbers are projected down the road as Denman Island’s school.

According to Elwood, community meetings were held on both islands about two years ago to talk about the future of the schools, which she described as “good and difficult.”

“What we had said to them was that we were getting to a place where we needed them to be open to try some things that were different — and they were which is terrific — but there would be a time where we get to a place where there is just an educational, pedagogical reason, where the numbers drop to a place where we don’t think that the learning is viable for students,” said Elwood, adding “but also that we were doing everything we could think of to keep those schools vibrant and alive.

“So that is what you’re seeing right now; this is the second year of them trying some new things. We’re going to have a reflection time in the late spring here.”

Elwood noted the new things the schools have been trying include blended models of distributed learning, face-to-face learning and project-based learning as well as different grade splits than schools like Royston or Courtenay elementary schools which have more students in them.

According to its website, the Denman Island school has a kindergarten to Grade 3 class and a Grade 4 to Grade 7 class. The Hornby Island school has a kindergarten to Grade 2 class, a Grade 3 and 4 split and a Grade 5, 6 and 7 class.

Elwood also notes additional resources have been given to the schools in an effort to keep them going as they are, and district resources are tight.

“We’re looking to be creative as we can and to stretch the district resources which we have been doing, stretching the district resources to keep those schools viable,” she said, adding the district will look at any and all possibilities to keep the schools vibrant. “I need to also be honest and say that there may be a time when we have to look at a different model for elementary education on the Islands.”

writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Just Posted

Artist's drawing of the proposed 52-unit affordable seniors housing project in Comox. File photo
Comox Valley Affordable Housing Society receives federal grant money

The Comox Valley Affordable Housing Society (CVAHS) has received $25,000 in grant… Continue reading

Mark Henderson’s exhibit, “Bikes and Barbies,” is now showing at Artful : The Gallery on Cumberland Road in Courtenay. Photo supplied.
New exhibit at Courtenay art gallery

Artful : The Gallery is showing art by Mark Henderson until Saturday,… Continue reading

Charles Hawkswell, Commander, of the Cape Lazo Power and Sail Squadron, presents a $1,000 cheque to the Comox Valley Marine Rescue Society. File photo
Comox removing moorage fees, hydro for Comox Valley Marine Rescue Society

Last year, the unit and society responded to more than 50 rescue missions in the past year

A Saanich man received almost 10 years in Supreme Court in Courtenay for a shooting incident from 2018. Record file photo
Shooting incident north of Courtenay nets almost 10-year sentence

Richard Daniel Vigneault was arrested without incident and faced 16 counts

Dr. Aref Tabarsi, a general pathologist at the North Island Hospital Campbell River Hospital Medical Laboratory, spoke about the issue of service in the region at a meeting in February 2020. Black Press file photo
Comox Strathcona hospital board wants pathology service back

UPDATED: Board supports move for chair, vice-chair to engage with Island Health on issue

While the route to get there is a little different, downtown Courtenay is open and accessible right now. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Bridge — and downtown Courtenay — are open, say businesses

Incoming BIA president Sean Ferguson says parking is available

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

The only access to 5th Street bridge heading east (toward Lewis Park) is via Anderton Avenue. Photo by Terry Farrell.
Single lane alternating traffic controls on Courtenay bridge now in effect

Single lane alternating traffic on the 5th Street Bridge is now in… Continue reading

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Most Read