Editorial - Loss of school part of rural depopulation trend

A storyline as old as Saskatchewan is playing itself out again, this time in the community of Calder.

Monday the inevitable came to pass as it was officially released the school will close in June and not reopen next fall.

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The decision is hard to argue with when you look at the most recent enrollment. Only 20 students are attending classes in a school serving Kindergarten to Grade 8. That is a number that is simply not sustainable.

Quintin Robertson, Director of Education with the Good Spirit School Division noted that is an interview with Yorkton This Week.

“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.”

But Calder Mayor Ivan Sobkow suggests the loss of the school is at least in part a self-inflicted wound on the community.

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.

Sadly, the decision by those parents is at least understandable.

There comes a time when parents realize they are already travelling to larger centres for medical services, eye glasses, machinery parts and other day-to-day needs of a largely farm-based rural area, since such services have long been lost in a community such as Calder.

And, they are also travelling so their children can play hockey, learn to swim, join Boy Scouts and a host of other activities.

Suddenly, it seems a wise decision to have the children going to school in the bigger centre.

It’s part of a process that has long seen people look down the road for what they see as a better deal. People travel to the bigger community in search of more selection in dresses, or cars, or on the grocery store shelves.

And in the process small businesses in small towns close and ultimately communities die over the decades. The result are communities slowing devolving until they are no more than a footnote in a history book.

The trend is now decades old, rural depopulation starting at the end of the first great war 100 years ago, so it is not likely to change.

But for Calder this week’s announcement will still be a difficult one to accept, as it signals another massive loss in terms of the local community.

© Copyright Yorkton This Week

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