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 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

People’s Party of Canada plan to have a candidate in the North Island-Powell River riding

Elections Canada formally recognized the North Island—Powell River PPC Association

North Island College showcases web programming and design talent

North Island College’s Interactive Media Grad Show will feature the best work… Continue reading

Union Bay elects two new trustees

Paul Healey and Hein Vandenberg will join the Union Bay Improvement District board

Painted pinkies mark World Immunization Week

World Immunization Week runs April 24-30

Looking for crafters for the Gnarly Little Spring Craft Fair in Courtenay

Calling all youth crafters and entrepreneurs! The Gnarly Little Spring Craft Fair… Continue reading

Sri Lanka invokes war-time military powers after nearly 300 killed in Easter bombings

Sri Lanka’s minister of tourism says 39 foreign tourists were killed in the Easter Sunday attacks

BC Ferries faced with heavy traffic on Easter Monday

89 extra sailings had been added to the long weekend schedule

Vancouver Island-based company provides glass alternatives to plastic straws

Enviro Glass Straws now producing more than 60,000 staws each year

Ex-mayor of northern village claims its drivers are overpaying ICBC $1,800 a year

Darcy Repen says data shows Telkwa households are being ripped off for car insurance

Deadly synthetic drug found in Kamloops that puts users in ‘zombielike’ state

Interior Health warning says substance causes ‘speedy, trippy-like symptoms’ and hallucinations

Photographer rescued in Courtenay Estuary

Responders use kayak to save man, equipment

Trudeau to be portrayed on ‘Simpsons’ episode

Toronto journalist who’s posted videos of himself doing impressions of the PM voiced him for the show

Elizabeth May’s wedding dress a ‘walk through a garden’ on Earth Day

Green Party leader set to get married in Victoria

Most Read