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LETTER: School district moving forward with next steps in school reconfiguration
We would like to begin by expressing our most sincere thank you to everyone who participat-ed in the four district redesign public forums. The Board was seeking input on a middle school model concept for the Boundary that would see schools reconfigured to a K-5, 6-8 and a 9-12 model. We were fortunate to be able to be posing the question based on educational merit and not one of financial need.
Trustees, and all of our administration team met last week to sift through what we heard at the public forums. We clearly heard and felt the passion and connection everyone feels to their school and teachers. That sense of pride and ownership runs deep through the Boundary from Big White to Christina Lake. Every school has a fan club that feels they are the best around!
School District 51 is a high performing school district with much to make families and staff proud. Family Centre’s in all of our elementary schools with an integrated service model that is the envy of the province, a collaborative community culture that is strongly supportive of students and families across the Boundary, outstanding educators, an exemplary leadership team and caring and dedicated staff.
Our graduation rate of 94.2%, and Aboriginal graduation rate of 86.7% is significantly above the provincial rates of 81% and 53.7% respectively. Those kinds of results do not happen by themselves, it takes the efforts, dedication and commitment of every person within this school district.
Based on what we heard during the public forums, the decision has been made to do a full costing of the potential redesign for Grand Forks that would see Hutton as a K-5 school, Perley the middle school with grades 6-8 and Grand Forks Secondary a 9-12 high school. We will also take a deeper and closer look at the research on middle schools to ensure that we do not overlook any important elements.
The proposed implementation date we talked about during the consultations was September 2013. Based on a number of factors we have decided to push that date back to 2014.
The most important reason being our teachers; due to job action this past year they were unable to fully participate in the process. Additionally there is still great uncertainty as to what the fall will look like in respect to teachers’ provincial collective bargaining and any outcomes to that process.
For any change to work it requires the full participation of those that are responsible for making that change a successful and positive experience. Teachers are a critical element to that formula, they are the ones that provide the day-to-day learning experience for our students and are vitally important to student success. We need them to be fully engaged in the process.
The plan is still to go back out to the public Oct 1 and 2 to report on the costing for the Grand Forks area, gauge the response and provide an overview of administrative structure changes for the school district.
What is different is that because of the decision to delay an implementation date, we will not be making any final decisions on changes until much later in the 2012/13 year, not November as originally thought.
This will also provide time for those communities not being included in the initial proposal to let us know if they want us to reconsider and include them in a full costing.
By pushing things back to 2014, we have provided ourselves with the luxury of time to be even more thoughtful and careful. As stated earlier, we are also pleased that we are consider-ing change only because of educational reasons; it too is a luxury for a school district that is in student enrolment decline.
There is no hidden agenda to close any of our schools or eliminate teachers or other staff. Our reasons stem from our desire to protect our schools, each and every one of them, offering the best educational advantages to our students and focusing on op-portunities. We want to be in control of our future and not allow negative deficits to determine what will best meet the needs of our students.
We wish you all an outstanding summer, with relaxing time spent with family and friends en-joying all that our wonderful Boundary area has to offer. We look forward to further conver-sations with you in October.
Chair, Board of Trustees
School District # 51