Elementary and middle schools in Rutland as well as Rutland Senior will be the first schools in the Central Okanagan School District to move to a new grade configuration and it could happen as early as the 2015 school year.
The school district held a series of public information sessions this week at Springvalley and Rutland Middle Schools as well as at RSS this week, asking for feedback on a plan to have RSS home to students in Grades 9 through 12, the middle schools include Grades 6 to 8 and the elementary schools to house kindergarten to Grade 5 students.
Rutland senior is under capacity under the current model of Grade 10 to 12 while middle schools throughout the Central Okanagan currently have students in Grades 7 to 9 with elementary schools teaching kids from K to Grade 6.
“Based on our research the Grade 6 to 8 grouping (for middle schools) is seen as a having kids together at a similar developmental stage of early adolescence,” said school district superintendent Hugh Gloster. “By the time students are in Grade 9 our experience is they are ready to move on to more of a high school environment. You can really plan your middle school program in a far more focussed way with Grades 6 to 8.”
Gloster said most of the public feedback to date has been positive with parents liking the grouping of Grade 6,7,8 together at the middle school level.
A drop in enrollment at RSS is allowing the district to move forward with its plan and is seen as a positive for RSS, a school that provides more specialty programming and courses for its students than any other in the district, according to Gloster. But the superintendent also said some of those programs are not well-attended due to the drop in enrollment, meaning moving Grade 9s into RSS would provide an influx of students and allow the school to keep the programs.
“RSS is known as a school that offers the broadest array of courses and specialty programs but as the enrollment drops it’s much harder to sustain those programs,” he said. “This move would get a critical mass of students to support the options that the kids in Rutland are used to having. Rutland is the first part of the district that has the opportunity to go this way. Right now the key point up for debate is whether its Sept. 2015 or Sept. 2016.”
While enrollment numbers at Rutland schools are allowing the district to plan for a possible change, the same can’t be said in the rest of the Central Okanagan. Central Kelowna, the Mission, West Kelowna and Lake Country would all have to see new schools built before the grade configuration could change.
In Central Kelowna, KSS is at capacity and a new high school is needed before any changes could be made. West Kelowna would also need a new high school to change the grade configuration while in the mission and in Lake Country, no changes can be made until new middle schools are built.
You can view a presentation about the school district’s plan to change grade configurations at sd23.bc.ca.