Mixed reaction over potential closure

It’s still not known if Ashton Creek residents will fight to save their school.

It’s still not known if Ashton Creek residents will fight to save their school.

Faced with low enrolment, the North Okanagan-Shuswap School District will consult with the public about possibly closing Ashton Creek Elementary School Aug. 1.

“There’s a 50/50 split,” said Diane Minaker, parent advisory council president, of community reaction.

“Some parents don’t believe it’s a big deal to send their kids to school in Enderby and others do.”

The PAC meets this week, but no special actions are being taken regarding the district’s process.

“I’m expecting a number of parents to show up because closure is a big deal and they are interested in it,” said Minaker.

“We’ll talk about the issue as it comes up and we’ll go from there.”

Ashton Creek had 90 students in 2006 but there’s currently 33 students in two, four-grade split classrooms.

“Parents weren’t surprised,” said Minaker of the school possibly closing.

“We have been in contact with (trustee) Chris Coers and she’s told us we could be on the radar to be shut down. We were just waiting for the ball to drop.”

A district administration report indicates there are challenges with a four-grade split class.

“Students in a kindergarten to Grade 3 classroom may range from being non-readers to reading at a high school level. In a straight grade or two-grade split classroom, this range is much smaller and students are better able to move ahead at their own rate,” states the report.

“The same developmental stages are very evident in classes such as physical education, where 13 year olds have to carefully restrain their capabilities in order to accommodate the eight year olds in the same gymnasium.

According to the report, enrolment and current staff rations also make it difficult to provide sports programs, music, art and club opportunities.

Upgrades are apparently needed to the school facility and the district says the net savings from closing the school would be $237,099 a year.

If Ashton Creek closes, students would be bused to M.V. Beattie Elementary in Enderby, about 10 kilometres away.

“M.V. Beattie is a great school,” said Minaker.

“We’re being told busing won’t change. They (district) are speculating it will be just 10 minutes longer for students.”

A board decision on closure is expected in April.





Vernon Morning Star