Columbia Shuswap Regional District directors are calling on the local school board to delay making a decision on future facility uses to allow for further consultation.
At their Thursday, April 15 board meeting, CSRD directors agreed to send a letter to School District 83 requesting a presentation on SD83’s Long Range Facilities Plan, while asking school trustees to delay choosing either of the two school reconfiguration options currently before the school board.
Of particular concern for CSRD directors is option E5, the one a majority of trustees suggested they were learning towards at an April 1 committee of the whole meeting. With this option, Shuswap Middle School (SMS) would continue offering Grades 6 to 8, while the Salmon Arm Secondary Jackson and Sullivan campuses would offer Grades 9-12.
“I think there’s a number of concerns with the direction the school district is headed in and I’d like to have further conversation around the reality of a high school in Sorrento,” CSRD Electoral Area C (South Shuswap) Paul Demenok told the Observer.
Trustees at the April 1 committee meeting also spoke in favour of an option supporting the construction of a high school in Sorrento. Superintendent Peter Jory said he too loved the idea, and that it could solve several problems, but added cautioned, “You can’t expect the government to come up with that funding and get shovels in the ground and the building built in a time frame that’s going to help solve the problems that we have facing us in the next five years.”
In meeting with school trustees, Demenok hopes to find out what efforts have been made with the province on the Sorrento school option and how serious the school district is about pursuing it. He said that if the school district were to go with E5, it is likely a Sorrento high school option would be pushed back even further.
The South Shuswap director said he is concerned for students from his area and the North Shuswap having to spend as much as four hours each school day travelling by school bus, depriving them of opportunities to take part in extracurricular activities. He has said he’s received numerous letters from parents who are worried students from outside of Salmon Arm would be relegated to one school, creating a have, have not situation.
“I think the community has got to pay some attention to that – I don’t think that’s an appropriate approach,” said Demenok.
In addition to helping alleviate those concerns, Demenok stressed a Sorrento high school would provide a number of benefits supporting the area’s development.
The school board meets again on Tuesday, April 20, when it will be discussing next steps for the Long Range Facilities Plan. The online meeting begins at 6 p.m. Those wishing to participate can find a link at sd83.bc.ca.
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