School District 8 is considering a plan that could relocate one of two programs to make room at Central School.
A proposed relocation of Wildflower School’s Grades 7 to 9 classes to Trafalgar Middle School, or the REACH Alternative program to L.V. Rogers, are possibilities the board of trustees will vote on at the March 9 board meeting.
The board will also consider leaving the programs at Central School, and whether or not to renovate the building to make additional space.
Central School’s capacity is for 161 students. Wildflower School currently has 154 students, but is projected to increase its enrolment to 183.
REACH, a program designed for a small cohort of students who have struggled in conventional classrooms, currently has 13 students.
The need to make room at Central School was prompted by the relocation of the board office to the building in 2018, as well as the shift of Grade 9 classes out of L.V. Rogers to Trafalgar starting next September.
District secretary-treasurer Michael McLelland said if the board decides to maintain the status quo, Wildflower will need to cap its enrolment in what will still be a packed building.
“There’s schools that run very successfully and have great programs over capacity,” said McLelland. “It’s just not ideal.”
The relocation of both programs has already encountered vocal opposition from parents, students and even instructors.
In a letter to the district, Wildflower’s parent advisory committee said moving its middle school grades would ruin a program designed to integrate young and older students.
“This is paramount to what makes the school unique. The older students mentor young ones, building leadership skills, caring and confidence.”
Letters were also submitted at the Feb. 9 board meeting on behalf of REACH supporters, including several youth counsellors and former students, who oppose the program moving to LVR where they say its students have had negative experiences.
Among those was a letter by REACH teacher Travis Sherstobitoff and youth and family worker Karee Ann Stuart.
They cited the location of Central School, with close proximity to a number of the city’s social services, and its ease of access to the school’s gymnasium and commercial kitchen, as key to REACH’s success.
“In a move to LVR, we fear that REACH would no longer meet the criteria set out by the Ministry of Education as an alternate school and would cease to exist,” the pair wrote.
“This would be an immeasurable blow to the community and the students whom we support.”
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