Eighth Avenue and Gill Elementary Schools will close at the end of the school year following a unanimous vote by SD70 school trustees during a budget meeting in Tofino on Tuesday night.
“Closing schools is a last resort chosen by any school board when faced with chronic underfunding and fewer students,” SD70 trustee Rosemarie Buchanan told the Alberni Valley News.
“This year’s decision was made after careful examination on several possible solutions and the board and administration felt tonight’s decision was the best solution.”
With Eighth Avenue and Gill closing, E.J. Dunn and A.W. Neill Middle Schools will be converted to elementary schools to accommodate the population of the closing schools.
Following the plan laid out by SD70 superintendent Greg Smyth earlier in the budget process, SD70 will convert to a K-7, 8-12 system in September.
While the school closures took into account the convenience of getting students to their new schools, school bus routes may need to be adjusted due to the new configuration.
According to Buchanan, the Strong Start program currently at Eighth Avenue will move to either Maquinna or E.J. Dunn. The school district has yet to make a decision as to the possible relocation of VAST.
The school district has looked at closing Gill and Eighth Avenue for several years now and Tuesday’s vote marks the end of a long, arduous school district reconfiguration process.