School’s in for Port Alberni teachers moving schools

School District 70 staff will spend the summer closing two elementary schools and preparing middle schools for new students.

The hard work of preparing A.W. Neill and E.J. Dunn for their transition to elementary schools from middle schools is well underway, said school district 70 director of operations Greg Roe. The school district has budgeted $150,000 for all the expenses associated with the move.

The district decided earlier this year to close down Gill and Eighth Avenue elementary schools as a result of declining enrolment. The elementary schools will be rolled into the middle schools, and there will no longer be a transition between elementary school and high school in the Alberni Valley.

“Basically we’re getting the schools renovated, cleaned and making sure we get all the teachers’ belongings to their new destinations,” said Roe.

That’s every teacher’s belongings, Roe added.

“Anybody who is currently teaching at either Gill or Eighth Avenue will definitely be moving on to either A.W. Neill or E.J. Dunn,” said Roe.

“They would pack the contents of their classroom and then we would relocate it to the new classroom,” Roe said.

The bulk of the renovations to the now-former middle schools will involve preparing them for younger kids.

“In a middle school that’s never really catered to primary students we have to do things to create the kind of utilities in those spaces that you would typically see in a primary grade classroom,” said Roe.

“For instance, coat hooks and cubby storage.”

Some classroom features will have to be adjusted so that they’re usable for shorter children.

“In a lot of cases, lowering the white boards down to a primary height so the kids can actually work on them.”

Kindergarten classrooms will take the most adjustment.

“We would be installing sinks because those young kids are washing up in classrooms before lunch and after play, said Roe.

Some specialized classrooms in Neill and Dunn will stay empty for the 2015-16 school year.

That’s because the industrial education programs that were offered by the middle schools won’t be offered by the new K-7 schools this year.

“Wood shop wouldn’t be offered at Neill and it wouldn’t be offered at Dunn,” said Roe.

“Right now we don’t have any plans to renovate those spaces… basically right now any home economics or industrial education spaces, we’re leaving those spaces as is. They won’t be used in next year’s curriculum.”

While the future of Gill is yet to be decided, two alternate programs will move from their current leased Redford Street building to Eighth Avenue in September.

Neither of the two programs will require much in the way of renovations, Roe said. Both will mainly just use the Eighth Avenue library.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com