Calder school set for closure

The Calder School has been slated for permanent closure at the end of the current school year.

The Good Spirit School Division Board of Education made the final decision on the school’s fate at its regular Board meeting Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018, according to a release dated this Monday.

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At the October meeting the Board passed a motion to undertake the school review process at Calder School in Calder, which had been identified for review based upon the criteria established in Board Policy 17 and The School Division Administration Regulations.

“Part of the division’s review process involved providing the School Community Council (SCC) with a School Review document, which contained data pertaining to enrolment figures, location, transportation considerations, grade configuration, staffing, operational costs, facility standards, program offerings, and extra-curricular activities,” detailed the release.

Quintin Robertson, Director of Education with the Good Spirit School Division, said the meeting was the last in a long process.

Last year the Board made the recommendation to drop Grade 7 and 8 from the school, with those students to be transferred to Yorkton, or Langenburg depending on where they lived.

“The community was not in favour of that,” he said.

This year the decision was to close the school, a decision Robertson said was based on enrollments.

“They’ve been on a steady decline,” he said, adding there are established enrollments levels the province has created for K-to-8 schools, the minimum number being 51.

“The most recent enrollment (in Calder) is 20,” he said. “It’s very low. They’ve continually struggled the last decade to meet the threshold.”

Good Spirit School Division Board of Education Trustee and Administration were invited to attend an information meeting with Calder School SCC on Oct. 17 at Calder School. The focus of the meeting was to discuss transportation routes.

Robertson explained that the time rural students spend on a bus is also a criteria in terms of any closure, with 90 per cent of affected students having to spend less than 75-minutes on a bus. By adding one new route all affected students will be under the 75-minutes, he said.

On Oct. 17, the Calder School SCC passed a motion supporting the Board’s decision to close Calder School. On November 22, 2018 the Good Spirit School Division Board of Education voted to close Calder School at the end of the 2018-19 school year.

Calder Mayor Ivan Sobkow said the decision was expected.

“We saw the writing on the wall, that is an understatement I guess,” he said.

Sobkow said while he appreciates the number of students is low, they should be higher. He said within the school’s boundary area there are some 45 to 50 students, but some parents have chosen to send their children to Langenburg or Yorkton, and the school division has facilitated that by providing bus service.

Still, Sobkow is pragmatic about the situation.

“We’re fortunate to have had a school going as long as it has,” he said, pointing to communities such as Rhein, Ebenezer and MacNutt that lost their schools years ago.

Robertson said at present there are two teachers at the Calder School, adding it is the Board’s intention to work with both staff to place them at another school in the Division.

As for the school building, Sobkow said it is in good shape.

“Council wants to preserve the building. We’re looking at options as to the best way to do it,” he said.

© Copyright 2018 Yorkton This Week

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