Residents of Stave Falls are getting their school back – in 2019.
Trustees on the Mission School Board voted 4-1 to reopen Stave Falls Elementary School in September of 2019, as a Kindergarten to Grade 6 school with an outdoor, forestry and cultural program of choice focus.
Board chair Tracy Loffler was the only trustee to vote against the motion, which was presented at Tuesday night’s meeting.
Loffler told the group of Stave Falls residents, who attended the public meeting, that she did not support the motion for various reasons.
Loffler said the building repair costs and the school-related opening costs for the first year works out to about $770,000. Money she believes will take more than 30 years to pay back and could be used to bolster program across the district.
She also said Mission’s graduation rates were consistently below the rest of the province and the Aboriginal grad rates are declining while the provincial grad rates are going up.
Loffler noted the $770,000 could fund approximately seven more teachers.
“I’m not convinced that opening Stave Falls at this point is in the best interest of the whole school district,” said Loffler.
“This is not me, in any way, trying to, how should I say, minimize the Stave Falls community or the students there. But this is me advocating for the other 6,000 kids in the school district, because at this point, I feel that if we open Stave Falls in 2019 … that we’re going to be doing so at the expense of other kids and programs.”
Her colleagues on the board did not entirely agree and the motion to open the school was passed.
Stave Falls Elementary, located at 30204 Brackley Ave., was built in 1994 and has been closed since 2008. It currently sits empty and unused.
In 2016, the school district announced that it may want to sell the property, which created a stir in the local community.
Residents in the area have been trying to get the school reopened for several years. After several discussions with the board, a pre-registration was held to determine interest in reopening the school.
Courtney Cardy, a director with the Stave Falls Community Association, has been trying to get the school reopened for years. She was in attendance when the announcement was made.
“I’m just excited that it’s finally opening. It was the right thing to do. I always said I really didn’t care in what nature it would open, it just needed to open,” said Cardy.
“It was a win all around.”
School district staff will now begin the process of repairing the building and getting it up to code for the September 2019 opening.