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From three high schools to one

  - Record file image
— image credit: Record file image

School trustees voted unanimously Tuesday night to move to merge all three high schools into one by September 2015.

Trustee chair Edie Heinrichs said there’s an “urgent problem,” as students are leaving Mission – 30 in the upcoming school year alone – for other districts because of a lack of courses.

There are not enough students at each of the three high schools – Mission Secondary, Heritage Park Secondary and Hatzic Middle Secondary – to staff and offer certain courses, such as calculus.

That particular course is offered online and Heinrichs said it’s “better than nothing, but not good enough. Our high schools are spread too thin.”

A task force had been established to form the merge plan, but teachers’ job action stymied its progress, which prompted the board on Tuesday to approve hiring a consultant to “expedite the process,” said Heinrichs.

Trustee Carol Hamilton said she voted in favour, but doesn’t support the change in terms of its 2015 timeline.

“We haven’t hired a consultant yet. What if the consultant says it can’t be done by 2015?” she said Wednesday morning.

Hamilton said the merge is a good idea, “if it’s the right thing to do.”

This is a decision that will have ramifications for generations of students.

“We need to have a full, unabashed review that includes the public.”

The board chair said it’s likely the high school would be placed at either Mission Secondary or Heritage Park, and there would be two middle schools established at the remaining locations. But all options are being considered, including redefining what grades comprise the middle school system.

Currently there are 763 students at Hatzic, 725 at Heritage Park and 895 at Mission (plus 128 French Immersion).

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