A suggestion from a member of the public has Okanagan-Skaha School District 67 exploring options to turn Penticton Secondary School and KVR Middle School into a “one school, two campus” solution in the face of upcoming closures.
Two options suggested at the public meeting at the Shatford Centre on Oct. 26 were added to the seven prior options going forward in the consolation process.
Both of the new plans have the Pen High and KVR Middle School hosting Grades 9-12. According to a press release from SD67, senior staff have determined them to be a “viable alternative” with two possible courses of action.
“It’s certainly an option that couldn’t be denied and because we hadn’t thought of it the trustees said we’re talking about everything else, let’s talk about this too,” said Bonnie Roller Routley, secretary-treasurer for SD67.
The first option would see Carmi, Parkway and West Bench schools closing and has Princess Margaret and McNicoll Park schools hosting Grades 6-8. Skaha Lake Middle School would become a K-5 elementary school, holding students from Carmi, Parkway and West Bench. All other elementary schools in this option would remain K-5 and McNicoll Park would hold French immersion students. The total estimated savings to the district would be roughly $757,000, according to the press release.
The second two-campus-one-school option would see Princess Margaret and Skaha Lake Middle School also joining and becoming a grade 6-8, two-campus middle school, with McNicoll Park and West Bench closing. This would save the district and estimated $825,000.
The projected capacity for the combination of Pen High and KVR Middle School would be 1,875 students. Princess Margaret’s projected capacity as a middle school would be 650 in the first option, but would hold 1,150 students if combined with Skaha Lake Middle School.
All the Grades 9-12 students in the district total to around 1,600 students, which Pen High in its current state is unable to take on its own while also maintaining the middle school model for students Grades 6-8.
“We needed to find an annex for Pen High and that’s what this particular option talks about,” Roller Routley said. “There are many, many ways to do this type of model. You could have one school with your English/science department and the other school with the other stuff, or you could do it by grade.”
The proximity of Pen High to KVR and of Maggie and Skaha Lake Middle School could work out favourably if this option is pursued, with students potentially not having to travel too far for their next class.
“Many districts have tried doing the two-campus model and our research suggests that the closer the two campuses the better,” Roller Routley said. “Those types of dual-campus schools seem to work.”
According to the report from SD67, McNicoll Park would require an immediate HVAC upgrade over the next two to three years with costs coming from capital funding. KVR would require renovation for primary levels with funding coming from the potential savings of either of two options. The first year savings would be an estimated $300,000 to $500,000 with those costs taken out. In the years following, the savings would amount to $750,000 from the beginning of 2017 forward.
Closing of Carmi Elementary would save the district an estimated $193,476; the closure of Parkway Elementary would save $203,172 and West Bench Elementary’s closure would save $360,239.
Carmi and West Bench were both graded “poor” on the facility condition index, which is the total cost of fixing maintenance requirements divided by the total replacement value. Parkway Elementary was graded as average.
The report notes that after a closure the land and buildings could be leased or sold increasing the savings for the district in either an ongoing or “one time” deal. Parkway Elementary’s assessed value for 2015 is $6,656,000, Carmi Elementary is assessed at $5,301,000 and West Bench comes in at $2,541,000.
In the event of closures, the district will have the option to lease or sell its vacant property, however the potential revenues are not being considered in the decision-making process.
School District 67 will be deciding which public schools in Penticton and Summerland to keep open during a meeting scheduled for Jan. 20.