Rutland Middle School's future is a key component that needs addressing with the anticipated student enrolment growth facing Rutland area schools. (File photo)

Enrolment crunch options for Rutland schools

Central Okanagan Public Schools seeks public input for long-term plan strategy

Central Okanagan Public Schools has turned its attention to enrolment issues and potential solutions facing Rutland area schools.

In a long-term facility plan discussion paper which will be the focus of an upcoming virtual town hall Monday, Feb. 8, 5 p.m., options are outlined to deal with an estimated 750 to 1,000 additional students by 2030 based on residential build-out predictions for the next decade.

Below are options with some of the pros and cons suggested in the discussion paper compiled by school district staff for several Rutland schools facing overcrowding or replacement concerns:

Rutland Middle School

• Replacing the school with a 750-student capacity new middle school on the same site – the current Rutland Road site accommodates both Rutland middle and senior high schools which limits space for existing school additions; enrolment projections of over 2,000 students for both schools raises challenges for vehicle and pedestrian traffic, sharing sports fields and implementing the new curriculum; replacement school construction on site will create additional challenges of how to accommodate staff and students needs; mechanical equipment at RMS that serves the secondary school needs to be factored into the removal of middle school from the site.

• Adding an addition to RMS to meet enrolment demands – significant renovations raise educational standards and building code requirements; would require at least another 12 portables during the construction process, adding to the 11 already in use; school building currently is structurally sound; limited locations on-site to build additions to both RMS and RSS.

* Build a new middle school with 750-student capacity on a new site – general uncertainty of property acquisition, application approvals, long timelines and potentially high costs through the application process make this option undesirable; Agricultural Land Commission has already balked at allowing a new school to be built on Agricultural Land Reserve site; after extensive review, no sites to house a new school could be found within Rutland catchment area.

Springvalley Middle School

• Construct new addition to existing school – limitations due to shared site with Springvalley Elementary which limits the expansion of either school; construction will need to displace students depending on the design of an addition; more portables would be used during that construction phase; catchment boundary review will be required to change feeder schools and balance the enrolments for a new capacity middle school.

• Construct a new 750-student capacity middle school on the Quigley Elementary site – the site has to accommodate two schools and playing fields for both but sharing a site limits future growth potential/additions if necessary; conflicts with neighbours because of vehicle traffic increase; the middle school sites would be close to each other.

• Construct a 900-capacity middle school on Quigley Elementary site – similar issues to the 750-student option, an increased capacity option would be able to accommodate increased enrolment projections for both middle schools in Rutland, with the site still large enough to house both the elementary and a new larger middle school.

Rutland Secondary School

• Construct a six classroom addition/renovation to increase Rutland Secondary School to 1,700 student capacity – alternative to find a new site for larger secondary school will be extremely difficult due to limited land availability; RMS issues need to be resolved before addition to RSS could occur; if the middle school remains on-site that limits locations on the site to construct additions; the Ministry of Education funding is required and potential timing for approval remains an unknown.

Black Mountain Elementary School

• Increase student capacity from 300 to 425-475 capacity – the school has room to accommodate an addition but are undeveloped portions of that site that are sloping and require fill; Black Mountain residential area continues to expand on both sides of Highway 33 (number of households as expanded by 15.6 per cent since 2012); education ministry won’t support addition proposal if there is the capacity to absorb more students in neighbouring schools.

• Catchment boundary review – could consider revising catchment boundaries to alleviate capacity constraints at Black Mountain Elementary; six of eight elementary schools in the Rutland area lie within the urban centre of Rutland and are within walking distance of each other; allows for open boundary area at present for Rutland students but reinstating individual school catchments would assist balancing elementary school enrolment but poses potential disruption for families

Transport students

The option to bus students to the nearest school with space would require additional buses. However, due to the growth in Kelowna area, the nearest middle school with any additional space is located on the Westside and Lake Country. This option not practical due to growth in other areas and availability in other schools is very limited, according to school district staff.

The townhall forum via Zoom can be accessed at https://sd23.zoom.us/j/64139118675.

Public feedback can also be provided at https://my.thoughtexchange.com/626419515.

The considerations up for discussion at the town hall can be accessed at https://drive.google.com/file/d/14LIaVeKC6nQEV9XJPB4jT-IPBzVIk2G0/.