The agonies of possible school closure have come to visit the South East Cornerestone School Division once more. This time the fate of the Pangman School, a kindergarten to Grade 12 facility, is to be determined no later than April 30.
The board of trustees, who met on Jan. 19 in Weyburn, approved a motion to establish a Pangman School Review Committee comprised of four people appointed by the school's community council, two people appointed by the Village of Pangman (one-elected, one non-elected) and two people jointly appointed by the RM of Norton and the Village of Pangman (one elected and one non-elected).
The committee was struck following the presentation and defeat of two motions.
The first motion brought to the floor was to close Pangman School, effective July 3, 2012. That was defeated after discussion among the trustees.
A second motion was then brought forward to remove Pangman School entirely from the review process. This was also defeated after discussion.
A motion was finally brought forward that was ultimately accepted and that was a motion to consider some grade discontinuance.
The motion called for a possible discontinuance of grades 9, 10, 11 and 12 at the Pangman School, effective July 3, 2012.
“None of the votes were unanimous, but that one was accepted for consideration,” said Carol Flynn, chairwoman of the board.
As has been the case for the past three monthly meetings, a delegation of interested citizens from Pangman was present at the meeting to view and hear the discussions. On previous occasions they have been invited to make presentations on the school's behalf. On those occasions there have been six to 10 people. On Jan. 19 there were over 60 Pangman residents packed into the Cornerstone Division's conference room, waiting for the board's first votes regarding the fate of their school.
Flynn told The Mercury that according to Education Ministry general rules regarding registration in rural schools, there needed to be at least 88 students enrolled in Pangman to avoid a review. Since the school currently has just 69 students, the process was begun to look at all aspects of its future operations.
“I don't know where the board members are going on this one, and I don't want to know. We want to keep the process clear and clean. None of the other motions passed unanimously and maybe a motion to discontinue some grades won't be unanimous either,” said Flynn.
In the meantime, the committee will go to work to gather more information regarding the school and its student population with reports to be filed in time for the board's April meeting which will ultimately determine the school's fate.
“We also have to set up a public meeting with electors in Pangman in March. At that time this additional information will be brought to the table for our board's consideration,” said Flynn.
With previous motions to close the school entirely and to eliminate the review process, having been defeated, the only issue that appears to be up for consideration is whether to keep the school active as a full K to Grade 12 facility or to reduce its mandate to serve the community and district as a K to Grade 8 school.
A few years ago Cornerstone trustees wrestled with another issue that surrounded the Lyndale School in Oungre that was also suffering from reduced enrolments as a kindergarten to Grade 12 school. In that case the senior grades were discontinued, but the school was kept open for lower grades due to its designation as a school of necessity by the Education Ministry due to its geographical location.