It’s looking increasingly likely that Trafalgar Middle School will close as part of the Kootenay Lake school district’s reconfiguration plan, but how exactly that will work remains to be seen.
“This could change. We won’t know until we go out into the communities what this might morph into,” board chair Lenora Trenaman told those gathered for the unveiling of the draft facilities plan on Tuesday evening.
The Nelson aspect of the district’s plan would see Trafalgar close, while a new K to 7 elementary program would be added to Central. L.V. Rogers would consist of Grades 8 to 12 and South Nelson Elementary would be rebuilt.
This is a scenario known as N-30.
“At the heart of this plan is closing Trafalgar and building a strong case for renewal from the Ministry of Education,” trustee Curtis Bendig said, noting that the middle school is responsible for approximately $10 million of the $80 million in deferred maintenance costs the district is facing.
N-30 would completely eliminate the middle school model from the district and bring capacity to 90 per cent. The plan involves no change for Hume, Blewett or Redfish.
It wasn’t the board’s first choice, but the combination of the best-ranked scenarios resulted in a plan that would require three rebuilds—a request likely to get shot down by the ministry.
“We needed a more realistic plan,” said secretary-treasurer Kim Morris.
Central School (below) is currently the home of Wildflower, but could have a second distinct student population if SD8’s draft plan goes ahead.
‘I have to speak up for our school’
Approximately 30 parents were in attendance during the presentation of the draft plan, which was unanimously approved—though trustees Heather Suttie and Sharon Nazaroff were quick to emphasize they were only voting for it “as a draft”.
And some of the parents were not happy with what they were hearing.
“I have to speak up for our school. We’re a very intentional community and we’re very different. We need to honour the children,” one Wildflower parent said to the board.
She was only one of a handful of Wildflower parents who expressed concerns about sharing their Central building with a student population that has incompatible curriculums and differing rules.
For example, Wildflower doesn’t use school bells or cell phones.
“I’ve heard nothing today that’s given me any comfort that this has been thought out,” said one parent. “I’m hearing the same thing I heard eight years ago.”
The new population of Central School will be made up of students from Rosemont and South Nelson Elementary.
The parent was referring to an earlier mixing of two schools within one building that didn’t work out as planned. She said adding a new population to Central will “undermine the credibility” of Wildflower.
“You’ve asked for our feedback and I feel like you haven’t heard our concerns.”
Another parent said Central would be so packed the kids would become like “rats in a cage”.
One parent asked whether the plan means there will be an “additional layer of administration” added to the district. Superintendent Jeff Jones pointed out that the Central principal would be filling the spot vacated by Trafalgar’s closure.
South Nelson Elementary (below) would be rebuilt according to the draft facilities plan.
‘What you see tonight is a really good start’
Some parts of the draft facilities plan have yet to be ironed out—for instance, the board hasn’t yet decided if Winlaw or W.E. Graham should be closed—but for the most part the trustees and administration are feeling optimistic.
“This plan will create more opportunities for students in our district,” trustee Curtis Bendig said. “But we’re not done with it yet.”
“What you see tonight is a really good start,” Jones said.
The plan would also see Salmo Elementary absorbed into Salmo Secondary, so students would remain in the same building from kindergarten through to graduation. In Meadow Creek, Jewett School would close. K to 3 will move to Lardeau Community Hall and 4 to 5 will move to J.V. Humphries.
There will be no change to Crawford Bay.
With the plan as it stands now, the capital cost for the district would be $11.5 million.
“The ministry can invest up to $11.5 million to save $23 million,” secretary-treasurer Kim Morris told the board, adding that the plan would “inject 5.8 million into our operating fund” over the next eight years.
As previously scheduled, the draft facilities plan will now be toured through the communities for another round of feedback. Jones said the plan, which was being edited onscreen during the presentation, will be brought in a “more polished” form.
According to the draft plan’s timeline, both Yahk school and the school board office on Johnstone Rd. would close during the 2016-17 school year, with plans to “dispose” of them by 2017-18.
Winlaw or W.E. Graham would then close in 2017-18. No changes are planned for Brent Kennedy or Mt. Sentinel.
By 2018 the elementary schools would become K to 7, L.V. Rogers would be 8 to 12 and Salmo Secondary would be K to 12.
Information about the draft facilities plans and upcoming meetings is available at sd8.bc.ca/?p=3507. Feedback can be sent to email@example.com.
SD8 facilities draft plan
Close Trafalgar Middle School
Rebuild South Nelson Elementary
K to 7 established at Central
French Immersion at Central
L.V. Rogers 8 to 12
Addition to Blewett
No change for Rosemont, Hume, Redfish
Close Winlaw or W.E. Graham
No change for Brent Kennedy or Mt. Sentinel
K to 3 to Lardeau Community Hall
4 to 5 moves to J.V. Humphries
No change for Crawford Bay
Salmo Elementary closes
Salmo Secondary becomes K to 12
This draft plan has not been finalized. Changes would come in a phased approach over the next few years.
Upcoming facilities planning meetings
March 30 – Winlaw Elementary
March 31 – Salmo Secondary
April 4 – Central School, Nelson
April 7 – J.V. Humphries School, Lighthouse