School District 67 will be laying out options to get itself out from between a rock and a hard place during a public meeting at the Shatford Centre on Oct. 26.
“Essentially we’re at the point where we have to decide if we want to spend our money on keeping classrooms heated or spend it on educational opportunities for kids,” said superintendent Wendy Hyer.
With an excess of real estate and dwindling student enrolments, SD67 will likely be closing schools to sustain healthy capacity levels.
At the meeting, district staff will be presenting viable possibilities and the next steps. No decision have been made yet, but Hyer said the process could have an effect on any family in the district with school-aged children.
“It deals not just with school closure but reconfiguration or school consolidation,” she said. “It might not impact your child right now if they’re in Grade 2, but it might impact your child when they go to high school.”
During a Long Range Facilities Plan presentation in October, the district explained how financial resources are depleting and dwindling enrolment numbers are at the roots of a continuously shrinking budget for the district. A trend that’s expected to continue until 2020. Overall enrolment has dropped from 7,894 in the year 2000 to 5,842 as of September 2015. Because declining enrolment is projected into the future, over $3 million in cuts are expected over the next three years.
“The focus is on using our resources to provide the best education we can for students,” Hyer said. “Where we’d like to focus the conversation is on what parents want as far as educational choice and opportunities for their kids, and what’s the best way of using our resources to be able to do that.”
To keep all schools in the district operational, Hyer said it would require cutbacks to programming; larger class sizes and less support for special needs students.
“I just encourage people to come out, get informed about the options and then participate in the follow-up meetings to have input and provide feedback to the district,” she said.
After the district’s options are laid out, the meeting will present a schedule for future meetings in which parents will have opportunity for input.
“We’re prepared to answer any questions about the options presented and meetings to follow,” Hyer said.
The meeting begins at 7 p.m. Those who can’t attend can participate in an online survey or by email.
“There will be a lot of avenues for having their voice heard,” said Hyer. “I just encourage people to come out, get informed about the options and then participate in the follow up meetings to have input and provide feedback to the district.”