After holding several public information meetings throughout the local Rocky Mountain School District Six regarding the long-term facility plan, the school board steering committee is taking next steps to gather more information.
According to superintendant Paul Carriere, the board made decisions regarding some of the next steps which include directing staff to gather more information such as educational benefits for students including special needs and vulnerable students, costs and timelines, defining catchment areas and transportation implications, and costs of physical accessibility changes.
One of the more notable announcements from the board is that they have directed that there will be no changes to the configuration of schools within the district in the 2017-18 school year.
The draft plan initially considered moving current K-3 and 4-7 configurations in Golden and Kimberley to K-7 in the 2017-18 school year. Mr. Carriere said that the board studied this issue further, weighing in public opinion from the meetings, and determined that if such a change were to be made it would need to be completed on a quick timeline.
Because it is a district-wide plan, they do not see arriving at final decisions in time to support configuration changes next year, he said via email. It doesnt mean that the board wont arrive at a final plan this year; they have just passed a motion that there wont be any configuration changes in 2017-18 in Golden and Kimberley.
At the community meeting held at David Thompson Secondary School in Invermere on October 5th, a group of parents expressed their concerns over one of the plans recommendations which was to convert both Eileen Madson and J. Alfred Laird Elementary to K-7 grade configurations, subject to an expansion of Eileen Madson Elementary School.
I remember when it was the two schools, Debbie Fisher, who has worked in the school system for 27 years and year beforehand, was a student enrolled at one of the elementary schools at the time when there were two K-7 schools, said during the public meeting. Its not healthy. It divided our community, it divided the kids, and it became very competitive in an unhealthy way. I really do believe that we would do an injustice to our community by splitting our kids in our community like that.
Invermere had two kindergarten to Grade 7 schools prior to 1980 Invermere Elementary located at the current Sobeys and J.A Laird.
Mr. Carriere said that it is important to know that there will be no change to the configuration of schools in the Windermere zone of the school board until Eileen Madson Elementary has completed a renovation or addition in the future. It was noted during the public information meeting on October 5th that this renovation or expansion was not at the top of the Districts priorities and would likely not receive funding in the immediate future from the Ministry of Education.