As reported in an earlier article in the Times, the board of School District 73 is considering moving Grade 7 students in Clearwater, Chase and Barriere to their respective high schools.
The proposal to relocate the Grade 7 students is contained in a long range facilities report presented by staff to the board of School District 73 (Kamloops-Thompson) during a school board meeting held Dec. 11.
According to the facilities report, there has been some interest generated in the three rural communities of to relocate the students.
Relocating Grade 7 students would present a number of positive educational opportunities, the report says.
First, students would have earlier access to programs such as shops and home economics that would enhance the delivery of the applied design, skills and technology curriculum.
Similarly, the Grade 7s would have access to specialty art, drama and music spaces as well as access to counseling services.
Access to more specialty core teachers would also be a benefit, the report states. Longer grade spans within a school allow for more tutoring and older role model programs as well as more collaboration among teachers across grade levels and better alignment of curriculum across grades.
Overall, the combined cohort size in the secondary schools would offer more flexible programming that could enhance interdisciplinary planning and inquiry connections to the local community.
The report notes that classroom space is readily available in the rural high schools and the ensuing vacant space created in the elementary schools would be available for other potential opportunities such as music, learning assistant resource teacher (LART), sensory rooms for students with special needs and multipurpose rooms.
There would be minimal impact to the bus routes to accommodate the change.
According to the report, Raft River Elementary has an enrollment this year of 271, which is 84 per cent of its operating capacity of 322.
Clearwater Secondary has 197 students enrolled, which is just 27 per cent of its operating capacity of 725.
Barriere Elementary has an enrollment of 239 this year, which is 88 per cent of its operating capacity of 271.
Barriere Secondary has 145 students, or 45 per cent of its operating capacity.
Small schools being monitored
The report states that the school district will continue to monitor small community elementary schools such as Blue River and Vavenby to ensure that quality educational programs can continue to be provided at current and future enrollment levels.
The school district will also monitor the cost structures of these schools.
Enrollment at Blue River Elementary is nine students, just seven per cent of its operating capacity of 132.
There are 10 students at Vavenby Elementary this year, six per cent of the school’s operating capacity of 166.
The long range facilities plan was prepared by facilities director Art McDonald with input from assistant superintendents Bill Hamblett and Rob Schoen. Schoen was vice-principal at Raft River Elementary in the early 1990s.
Other information in report
The facilities report contains other information on the school district’s properties in the North Thompson Valley.
For example, the facilties condition index is a comparative indicator of the relative condition of buildings. The FCI is expressed as a percentage, or ratio, of the cost of remedying maintenance deficiencies to the current replacement value.
This calculation also provides a corresponding rule of thumb for the annual reinvestment rate (funding percentage) to prevent incremental deferred maintenance deficiencies.
A low FCI is better than a high one. This, a FCI of 0.00 to 0.05 is excellent, 0.15 to 0.30 is average, and 0.60 to 1.00 is very poor.
The facilities condition index for Raft River Elementary is 0.67 while that of Clearwater Secondary is 0.50.
Blue River Elementary is 0.39 and Vavenby Elementary is 0.63.
Barriere Elementary’s facilities condition index is 0.69 while at Barriere Secondary it is 0.57.
Former schools listed in the report include Dutch Lake School, which closed in 2003 and is presently leased to District of Clearwater.
Barriere Ridge Primary also closed in 2003. The building is leased to District of Barriere.
The old board offices in Clearwater and Barriere are presently vacant.
Vacant lots belonging to the school district in the Clearwater area include two near the school-bus garage, one in Birch Island and one in McMurphy (between Vavenby and Avola).
Those near Barriere include one at Boulder Mountain and one at Louis Creek.