Final chance for public to weigh in on school’s future
With the final public consultation for Sturgeon Creek School’s accommodation review set for next Tuesday (Jan. 15), the committee is hoping there will be a large turnout to show support for the rural school.
“We encourage parents and community members to join us for our final meeting,” said Sturgeon Creek School principal Kendall Olsen.
“They sign in at the meeting and every signature counts,” noted committee chair Jackie McCormick.
“It shows that they are supporting the school and the community, and the things that we do.”
McCormick noted the meeting will be the public’s final chance to weigh in on the future of the school before a recommendation is made to the Rainy River District School Board.
And she added the possible outcome could affect the entire community.
“This isn’t just affecting current parents and current students,” McCormick stressed.
“It also affects the community and businesses because if they close the school, there goes the core of your community.
“Lots of research says that in some communities, the population goes down sometimes to the point of abandonment,” McCormick added.
“So it’s going to affect everyone.”
McCormick indicated a school closure would limit the programs people are able to receive in the community.
“And people are not going to be able to do business in a place that has no people,” she reasoned.
“So it’s not just kids and their parents,” she reiterated. “I’m trying to stress that it’s affecting everyone, so everyone needs to come forth and show they are supporting this.”
The accommodation review process was enacted by resolution by board trustees in June, 2011 in order to conduct an open and transparent review regarding the future of three schools: Donald Young in Emo, Sturgeon Creek in Barwick, and Crossroads in Devlin.
Donald Young School’s accommodation review was completed last year and recommended the board “build a new school on the current site of Donald Young School, with consideration given to future enrolment due to the mining industry and to consolidation with other schools.”
But they suggested postponing the building of the school for three years to allow time for consideration of community partnerships, as well as to be open for a consolidation of another school, such as Sturgeon Creek and/or Crossroads.
Crossroads School will undergo it accommodation review in the near future.
The three options being considered by the Sturgeon Creek Accommodation Review Committee are:
•continued maintenance of the school;
•school closure and a redrawing of boundary lines; or
•consolidation with a new Donald Young School in Emo.
The review considers the value of Sturgeon Creek School to the student, the community, the board, and the local economy, with the quality of the learning experience of the students being weighted to have the most impact in the decision-making.
Three previous public consultations were held Oct. 23, Nov. 20, and Dec. 20, with many students, former students, former employees, parents, and community members making a case to save the school.
“I think we’ve done a really good job of presenting information in support of the school,” McCormick said.
She’s hoping there will be more input at the final meeting next Tuesday.
“I’m quite encouraged by the presentations that were made by our local municipalities, by individuals, and by the school council,” echoed Olsen.
“I feel there has been a fair bit of good input into the meetings, and I think there is going to be a good deal of material for the committee to draw on when we have to do a recommendation following this meeting.
“I’m feeling pretty good about the whole process, but I think it’s hard to tell which way it’s going to go,” Olsen added.
The committee will meet again Jan. 22 to determine the recommendation it will make to the board.
In regards to the three options up for consideration, the committee is taking into account bus times should the boundary lines be redrawn, which would see some Sturgeon Creek students attend Riverview School in Rainy River while others would be moved to Donald Young in Emo.
It also is looking at finances in all regards—from the cost to maintain the school to the cost of addition busing.
Above all, the value to the students is given the highest consideration.
The board will not make any decisions until the accommodation review process is completed at Crossroads.
Information regarding the accommodation reviews can be found on the school board’s website at www.rrdsb.com