Ashley Salmon raises a point about school closures to School District 70 trustees at a special meeting at Alberni Elementary School on Tuesday night.

Alberni School Closure: which will it be?

The talk is almost over and soon it will be crunch time for School District 70 trustees as they decide which elementary school will close.

The long and painful process of closing a school in the Alberni Valley has started.

The first of three public information sessions regarding the pending closure was held at Alberni Elementary School on Tuesday night. Two more sessions were slated for Wednesday and Thursday after the News deadline.

“The bottom line is that we have to balance a budget by closing a school,”School District 70 trustee chair Larry Ransom told a crowd of 150-200 people.

“We realize that this is a tough decision. But we have to take the emotion out of this and do what’s best for the school district.”

A drop in the number of students in the district—as many as 1,000 since 2003—combined with cuts to transportation funding have led to the school closure.

Meetings were scheduled at Gill, Wood and Alberni Elementary schools because they will be most impacted by a closure decision.

Gill and Wood are considered for closure, a handout noted. Gill is the lowest ranked school in the district in terms of condition—it is in need of many repairs. Wood is considered because it’s a potential location for VAST.

The scenario spoken about most often involved closing Gill School and moving its students to Alberni Elementary.

John Howitt would absorb some Alberni students. Alberni French Immersion students would be moved to Maquinna, some students from which would be moved to Eighth Avenue School to accommodate them.

Wood students would be absorbed into Maquinna, Eighth Avenue and Alberni.

Moving French Immersion would be tricky. Not all students may move with it. No transportation is provided with the move.

“No English is taught for the first three years and this is also a huge concern to us,” Pinkerton said.

Port Alberni is another victim in the long line of communities that suffered school closures in the past decade, Alberni-Pacific Rim MLA Scott Fraser said in a telephone interview after the meeting.

“This has its roots in the Liberals changing the essential funding formula after they took office,” Fraser said. “More than 200 schools, most in rural areas, have closed since then.”

Teachers, students and families have called Fraser about the issue, and lately the tone has been school against school, he said. “These types of decisions are ripping the community apart and causing a great deal of hurt,” he said.

Fraser said he’ll try and raise the issue when the NDP caucus convenes next week and try to raise it in the provincial legislature during question period. He said the NDP may re-examine the funding formula if they take office after May’s provincial election.

Trustees will announce their decision as early as Feb. 12 at a public meeting at the ADSS theatre.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

Twitter.com/AlberniNews

Just Posted

Port Alberni city council to ‘stay on course’ for five-year budget plan

Next budget meeting is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 29 at 6 p.m

Alberni businesses nominated for Island excellence

Coulson Ice Blast, Port Posh Wash, the Blue Marlin Inn and Totem… Continue reading

BCHL: Speedy left winger commits to Bulldogs

Forward Ethan Jang will be suiting up for the 2018-19 season

Rollin Art Centre open now

Make sure to renew your Community Arts Council membership

BCHL: Bulldogs take the ice after trade deadline

Alberni team picked up one loss, one win with new roster

Parksville MakerSpace members ride the rails

New room added for model train enthusiasts; workshop set for Jan. 21

Women’s movement has come a long way since march on Washington: Activists

Vancouver one of several cities hosting event on anniversary of historic Women’s March on Washington

Liberals’ 2-year infrastructure plan set to take 5: documents

Government says 793 projects totalling $1.8 billion in federal funds have been granted extensions

Workers shouldn’t be used as ‘pawns’ in minimum wage fight: Wynne

Comments from Kathleen Wynne after demonstrators rallied outside Tim Hortons locations across Canada

John ‘Chick’ Webster, believed to be oldest living former NHL player, dies

Webster died Thursday at his home in Mattawa, Ont., where he had resided since 1969

World’s fastest log car made in B.C. sells for $350,000 US

Cedar Rocket auctioned off three times at Barrett-Jackson Co., netting $350,000 US for veterans

Bad timing: Shutdown spoils Trump’s one-year festivities

Trump spends day trying to hash out a deal with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer

Woman in Nanaimo buys $70 worth of ice cream with allegedly stolen debit card

Purchase said to have occurred on Jan. 11 at 2 a.m. at Nicol General Store

RCMP nail alleged sex toy thief

Shop owner plays a role in arrest

Most Read