BY BILL PHILLIPS
It’s a refreshing change.
Rather look at closing a school, tonight the School District 57 board will look at opening a school. Senior district staff will bring forward a recommendation at tonight’s regular meeting to re-open Springwood Elementary School in the Hart this September.
“The possibility of opening a new school is always an exciting one,” said Tim Bennett, school board chair. “This recommendation is in direct response to the Supreme Court of Canada’s November 10, 2016 decision in the matter of British Columbia Teachers’ Federation and the provincial government.”
Subsequent to that ruling, an agreement was reached with the BCTF which mandates smaller classrooms in B.C. schools.
In the Hart, that may mean opening Springwood, which would house about 180 students currently enrolled at Heather Park and Glenview … both of which are currently operating at capacity, according to Schools Superintendent Marylyn Marquis-Forster. Springwood was closed in 2010.
“A re-opening of Springwood Elementary would allow School District 57 to enhance learning environments for Prince George students living north of the Nechako River while meeting its contractual mandate (to reduce class sizes),” said Bennett.
Should the board recommend re-opening the school, an catchment area for the school will have to be established. Students currently enrolled in Grade 6 in the proposed new catchment area for Springwood will be allowed to stay in their current school for Grade 7.
In addition, should the board choose to re-open the school, talks would begin with the Prince George BCTF local on staffing the new school.
Budgeting for the new school will also get underway.
Should trustees vote to approve the recommendation, a communication plan involving direct contact with affected households will begin in a matter of days. A community information night would most likely be offered. The school district will be equipped to answer telephone and e-mail questions and school communities will be supported to plan appropriately for September.
The school board meeting gets underway at 7 p.m. tonight.
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