The case for RSS as a K-12 school

In the Facilities Report released by the school district this fall, three of the top-rated scenarios see Rossland Secondary School closing and MacLean Elementary becoming a K-7 school. This is based on the assumption that grades kindergarten to seven will fit in MacLean. When you take a closer look at the numbers, however, it becomes clear that this is not a viable option.

Currently MacLean is a K-5 school, and RSS is a 6-12 school. This may seem unusual, but there are configurations of every shape and size in schools all over the province and the current configuration works very well in Rossland.

Using SD20’s enrolment projections for 2015-16 (which has MacLean growing every year) if you put K-7 into MacLean you will end up with a capacity of 112.37 per cent based on the District’s Average Functional Capacity calculations.

This does not include any space for Rossland’s extremely successful Strong Start program, which currently has 151 children registered. And if there are ever more than 44 kindergarten children wishing to be registered at MacLean (it’s full this year), children will have to be turned away even if they live in Rossland, as there won’t be room for an additional class. There is no room for long-term or short-term growth.

In addition, when you work out the area per student with K-7 in MacLean, there would be only 6.75 sq. m. per student for 2015-16. If you include a portable, it works out to 7.03 sq. m. per student.

The next smallest area per student at any of the other schools in SD20 is Twin Rivers Elementary at 9.35 square metres, or 9.63 square metres with its portable. The space per student ranges from this up to 19 sq. m. at Webster Elementary. The average across the district, without portables, is 11.96 sq. m. per student. This number is even higher if you include portables.

Therefore, if one of those three scenarios were to take place, not only would Rossland lose its high school, but our elementary students would have far less space than any other school in the district.

The Planning for the Future 1 and 2 documents prepared by board staff both suggest having a K-12 school in Rossland. PFF2 states that: Closure of MacLean Elementary will result in annual operational savings … [of] $218,500 from the 2011/2012 school year forward.

The district’s Project Identification Report: Rossland Secondary School from May 2009 states that: “The grade 10 to 12 students from Rossland should be accommodated at a combined Rossland K to 12 School… Given the present populations compared against the existing capacity of Rossland Secondary, it is feasible to convert the existing school to K to 9 or K to 12 configurations with minor renovations to adapt to the elementary population.”

Capital upgrades are funded by the Province, not the school district, and reconfiguring RSS as a K-12 will not affect the district’s operating budget. It is up to the Board, working with the communities, to set the capital plan. The Board has included K-12 in Rossland in the capital plan for the last two years, and the recommendation is to add Stanley Humphries Secondary School to the plan as well, as it will need a renovation in the years to come. The majority by far of the capital budget has been devoted to Trail schools in the last 10 years, and it’s time for schools in the rest of the district to receive capital upgrades.

The Planning for the Future 1 document states: Although RSS is an old building, it is solid and in good shape except for the need of a roof replacement in the near future. [Note: most of the roof has been replaced since PFF1 was done, with the final section (at a cost of $220,000) to be completed in 2013.]

K-7 will not fit into MacLean in a way that is equitable within the district, or conducive to staff morale and excellent education for our children. Rosslanders will not accept losing our high school as well as accepting a lesser elementary situation than any other school in the district.

The Rossland Neighbourhoods of Learning committee is working toward solutions for maintaining K-12 in Rossland. The proposal we support is reconfiguring RSS as a K-12 school.

Reconfiguring RSS into K-12 would be economically viable as it brings the cost per student into the middle of all SD20 schools’ cost-per-student ratios. Closure of the MacLean school and the creation of a Neighbourhoods of Learning Centre within that building would result in additional operational savings to the school district.

Ann Quarterman, Diana Wilkes, Jennifer Ellis, Jill Sibbald, Jill Spearn, Leslie Paul, Mary Amantea, Norm Fraser, Robin Hethey, Shelley Ackerman,

Rossland Neighbourhoods of Learning Committee

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