School District 69 administration staff is recommending the closure of Parksville Elementary, Qualicum Beach Elementary, Winchelsea Elementary and French Creek Community Schools.
The recommended plan would eliminate middle schools in the district altogether and instead run Kindergarten through Grade 7 at remaining elementary and middle schools and Grade 8 through 12 at both high schools, Kwalikum Secondary School and Ballenas Secondary School.
The draft recommendation was presented to trustees and the public Thursday evening by the Superintendent of Schools Rollie Koop and Secretary Treasurer Erica Bailey. If the recommendations are given the green light by trustees on Tuesday, Jan. 28, at the regular board meeting, a 90-day public consultation period will commence.
The earliest a motion would be passed to act on the recommendations would be April 29 and changes could occur in the district by September 2014, although the Secretary Treasurer stated that would be tight.
The plan has PASS/Woodwinds relocating to the former Board Office at the Family Place Site and False Bay Elementary school would running K-9.
The recommendations came out of months of public meetings on facilities where the local school board asked for feedback in dealing with $3.6 million budget deficit over the next five years, a substantial underutilization of district schools, and a declining enrolment that isn’t expected to reverse for at least 10 years.
The plan would save an estimated $1,230,000 annually and gain 19 per cent in facility utilization. Therefore, still more changes would need to be made to make up the projected five-year deficit.
Members of the public were allowed to pose questions at the Thursday night meeting but not give comments. Comments can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If the plan proceeds, no students currently attending middle schools would be moved back to elementary school, Koop said, instead adjustments would be made to avoid that scenario.
Check Tuesday’s edition of The News for more comments and information from the Thursday night meeting.