Over the past months District Staff and the Board of School Trustees have been engaged in many discussions focused on the issues of surplus space and surplus properties/facilities within the district. Key points to those discussions were:
?The current situation involving a significant amount of surplus space (empty classrooms) in schools;
?The probability that enrolment in some schools will continue to decline;
?A circumstance involving a number of ?non-school properties? (and possibly facilities) currently owned by the District – properties that could possibly be determined by the Board to be surplus to the District?s needs.
Underlying all of these discussions has been the recognition that school closure must be considered, and that the District?s entire inventory of ?non-school? properties and facilities must be systematically reviewed. After considerable discussion, the Board proposed to the public, the closures of Dokie Elementary, and Rolla Elementary effective June 30, 2004. Following a number of months of public consultation on these proposals, the Board identified March 3, 2004, as the date where decisions would be provided on these proposed closures.
At the regular Board meeting of March 3, 2004, Trustees rendered their decisions. In separate votes on each proposed closure, trustees decided that both Dokie and Rolla Elementary Schools will be closed on June 30, 2005. This decision will allow an additional year of operation for the two schools, beyond the original date that closure was proposed to occur. ?We know how difficult this has been for schools and communities,? commented Mike Downey, Superintendent of Schools. ? This additional year will hopefully permit parents, school staff, and the District staff, to plan and to develop transition plans for the students.?
Trustees made additional decisions regarding the use of school space. Over the next year, Parkhill Elementary will have the number of seats available for students reduced from 410 to 120 seats. This will be done by closing off that section of the school, south of the current school office.
Pouce Coupe Elementary is a very old structure, with ongoing problems that are associated with maintaining the integrity of the foundation. A provincial evaluation team is working with District staff to make recommendations on the structural issues. Pouce also has significantly more space than the student population is utilizing. The solution to the structural problems will be approached in a manner that will also reduce available school space so it is in alignment with the enrollment numbers.
Over the next few months, the Board will also review options for the location of the District Office, and the use of the O?Brien Centre.