The community will gather to share their input on the Benalto Elementary School’s future. The meeting will be held 7 p.m., March 3, at the Elks Hall, Benalto.
The information shared will be taken into consideration for the future of the school. A final decision will be made April 6.
Chinook’s Edge School Division superintendent Kurt Sacher said the board is interested in the feedback received.
“All the data and information of that parent group will be taken forward to the board on April 6,” Sacher said.
Three options for the school’s future include:
• keep the school open
• close a division – either Kindergarten to Grade 3 or Grade 4 to 6
• close the school at the end of June 2016
Feedback has also been sought out from the county and the MLA.
“We expect quite a number to be there on March 3,” Sacher said. “With all that information, the board will be in a good position to make the decision they feel is best for the school, the community and the division.”
Time will be well spent collecting community impute. Facilitators will form small groups with attendees to ensure their voices are heard.
“It will be an important evening getting that data and information so the board knows exactly how the community feels and how parents feel as they make a difficult decision in April,” Sacher said.
Other aspects are strongly considered as well. Students’ educational experience, social atmosphere and development opportunities, interaction in various activities, the facility, transportation issues and the negatives and positives of keeping the school open.
Currently there are 20 students enrolled at the school, educating children Kindergarten to Grade 6.
Enrolment numbers have suffered a steady decline in the past five years. In 2011 there were 52 students, numbers have gone down since.
Even with the decrease teachers have continued to work hard, providing the best educational programs for their students.
Many community member have expressed their desire to see the school remain open.
“We are very pleased with the program that the two teachers and other staff are able to provide at the school,” Sacher said. “They have done a terrific job with limited resources to provide the very best for the 20 students that are in attendance right now.”
He added the committee, including parents and community members, are working very hard to consider the school’s future.
Sacher said they believe there are more potential student out there and enrolment numbers will turn the corner.
“In the past there have been many years when we’ve been quite optimistic that the numbers will come in higher,” he said. “People say they want to come to the school, but unfortunately they make other choices and that has hurt us from a numbers point of view.”
Many community members have proclaimed the school to be a great place to learn.
Students learn in small class sizes from teachers who are committed to providing good education. The students are educated right in their own community.People want to see the school thrive.
“We have spent enough time in the school to say without a doubt we have a strong educational program. That has come up repeatedly,” Sacher said. “It’s a tribute to the teachers and the support staff in the building and the support they get from their parent council.”