School District 83 trustees are leaning towards an option in the school district’s Long Range Facilities Plan that favours making Salmon Arm Secondary’s Sullivan campus and Jackson campus (pictured) both Grade 9-12 schools. (Google maps image)

School District 83 trustees are leaning towards an option in the school district’s Long Range Facilities Plan that favours making Salmon Arm Secondary’s Sullivan campus and Jackson campus (pictured) both Grade 9-12 schools. (Google maps image)

Letter: Two high school option for Salmon Arm will create ‘have, have not’ situation

Writer concerned with E5 option, says transparent talk about implications needed

I am alarmed that Option E5 – two separate Grade 9-12 Salmon Arm high schools – is what the majority of SD83 trustees are leaning towards to address capacity issues.

I don’t see the E5 option in the Long Range Facilities Plan. Where has E5 come from and where is the consultation data to support it?

Sullivan is the pinnacle of high schools in Salmon Arm. The Grade 10s advancing from Jackson to Sullivan are truly excited that Sullivan is finally on the horizon!

At the end of the day, decisions about capacity issues in Salmon Arm have to be made. Shuffling kids around our schools is not just a numbers game. The numbers represent young human beings with feelings about how they are valued within their school system.

Creating two Grade 9-12 high schools in Salmon Arm with existing infrastructure will create a shiny “have” school and a dull “have not” school.

Our region is growing and we need more schools. We need another elementary and a high school, but I think the high school needs to be in the South Shuswap.

Read more: School trustees leaning towards two Grade 9-12 campuses in Salmon Arm

Read more: Column: Students deserve say in changes to Salmon Arm schools

COVID-19 has dramatically changed the landscape. All population growth trends have been upended with families relocating to the Shuswap for small town and rural living.

Which students will get the privilege of going to Sullivan, and which ones will go to Jackson? SD83 cannot offer equitable opportunities for students at both schools without millions of dollars put into Jackson.

Why does this decision about dramatically changing the social fabric of our community need to happen in May 2021, after a year of unprecedented change with COVID-19?

Schools are the fabric of our communities. A decision to create two separate Grade 9-12 high schools in Salmon Arm should not be made before having a fully transparent talk about the implications – with ALL of the stakeholders – including our youth.

Kari Wilkinson

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