Parents oppose school closure plan in Trout Creek
Parents and residents spoke out on Tuesday evening in opposition to the possible closure of Trout Creek School.
The option, presented earlier this month, calls for the closure of Trout Creek School and the reconfiguration of other Summerland schools.
Under the proposal, students from Kindergarten to Grade 3 would attend Giant’s Head School, students in Grades 4 to 7 would attend Summerland Middle School and students in Grades 8 to 12 would attend Summerland Secondary School.
The plan is one of many possible school closures under consideration as the Okanagan Skaha School Board looks to trim its operating budget.
Closing this school and reconfiguring other schools in Summerland would save an estimated $423,882, according to information from the school district.
“There isn’t any trustee here who wants to close any school,” said Bill Bidlake, vice-chair of the board. “There’s not enough money in education. If we could avoid closing schools, we’d do it.”
However, those at a public meeting at the school on Tuesday evening were not in favour of the proposal. Glenn Sinclair said the reconfiguration is “a very flawed concept.” He said the middle school system was brought in to meet the developmental needs of students from Grades 6 to 8. Re-adjusting the grade levels at a middle school defeats the purpose of having this facility.
Meghann Pleasance, the parent of a special needs student, said she and her family moved to Summerland from the Lower Mainland in order to be close to the elementary school.
“Trout Creek School is an amazing school with a dedicated staff,” she said.
Naomi DeLury said the option to close Trout Creek School was announced just days before the public meeting, without allowing adequate time to receive input on the proposal.
Christy Thiessen asked the board to consider closing West Bench Elementary School and transferring those students to Trout Creek School instead.
Pleasance also suggested closing West Bench as a way of keeping Trout Creek School open.
Glen Herman asked that the school board move slowly when making a decision on school closures.
“You need to take some more time,” he said. “A capital decision like closing a school is huge.”
The school board will continue to gather feedback until Jan. 15.
At an open meeting later this month, the board will make its decision on school closures.
The meeting will be held Jan. 20 at 6:30 p.m. in the IMC building behind the school board office at 425 Jermyn Ave., Penticton.