Westside school trustees ask for the public’s views on plan to reconfigure grades in schools

The most significant recommendation from staff is to gradually change the grade configurations making middle schools Grades 6-8.

To the editor:

The Westside school trustees are seeking your input.

Since last spring, the Central Okanagan School District’s Board of Education has held public meetings, and received information and recommendations from staff regarding the district’s Long-Term Educational Facility Plan.

The Ministry of Education requires school districts to have a long-term plan and to keep it updated. Plans should be driven by educational program requirements, community and enrolment demographics, school operating capacities, as well as the current condition of facilities.

The most significant recommendation from staff is to gradually change the grade configurations throughout the school district to support middle schools which encompass Grades 6 through 8 (currently our middle schools are Grades 7 through 9).

The main recommendations regarding the grade configuration changes and timelines for Westside schools are as follows:

West Kelowna/Peachland

• Convert the Westside schools to the K-5, 6-8, 9-12 configurations upon the completion of an addition to Mount Boucherie Secondary School or the construction of a new secondary school on the Westside.

• Short-term: Open the new Mar Jok Elementary School and relieve current pressure from neighbouring elementary schools—target date September, 2014.

• Long-term: Complete an addition to MBSS or build a new Westside secondary school—earliest target date 2019.

Offering a middle school French immersion program on the Westside will also be debated.

As your Westside school trustees, we want to draw to your attention the scheduled Public Consultation/Information meeting to be held on Thursday, Oct. 18, 6:30 p.m. at Mount Boucherie Secondary School.

This will provide an opportunity to look at the staff recommendations, ask questions and perhaps make other proposals. It is important that the trustees, who will make the final decision, know how members of the public feel about the suggested changes.

While changing grade configurations to K-5, 6-8, 9-12 may be a sound educational decision, there will be ramifications, especially for our elementary schools, which will be smaller due to losing a grade, and our senior secondary schools, which will become larger by adding a grade.

Although it appears it would take seven or so years for all the proposed changes to affect the Westside, many of the students currently in our schools will be impacted, and as we all know, time has a habit of passing very quickly, so we need to be sure that the proposed changes would work for our school district and, more specifically, for the Westside.

Please attend the public meeting and provide your input.

Moyra Baxter,

school trustee,

Peachland/Westside Zone II

Julia Fraser,

school trustee,

West Kelowna