School board to decide on grade reconfiguration

By: Ciaran Thompson

  |  Posted: Thursday, Mar 07, 2013 06:00 am

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This month, trustees from the Canadian Rockies Public School (CRPS) board will decide whether a full grade of students switch schools in an attempt to combat the challenges surrounding a decrease in enrolment and financial resources.

At its regular meeting last Wednesday (Feb. 27), CRPS Superintendent Chris MacPhee presented a blended option to board trustees that would see Grade 4 students from Elizabeth Rummel School moved to Lawrence Grassi Middle School (LGMS) starting this September.

Grade 8 students will remain at LGMS for the 2013/14 year, the option recommends, however, a move to Canmore Collegiate High School could happen in the near future depending on cohort numbers.

As a result of the students moving, six portables at Elizabeth Rummel will close and provide a cost savings of roughly $28,000 per year. The school currently has 12 portables.

This blended option was developed after months of planning and deliberations between members of the Community Education Network and eventually led to a meeting with Alberta Education where 12 options were narrowed to six.

Based on utilities, capital and maintenance costs, as well as transportation implications and grade cohort numbers, the Education Leadership Team developed the blended option the board will vote on implementing at its next meeting, March 20 at Canmore Collegiate High School.

“The blended option has built-in flexibility to move slowly as we move through the process,” MacPhee said, noting the benefits of having a school strictly catered to the first three grades.

“Elizabeth Rummel will focus solely on being an early learning facility, which there are none in the Valley,” he said. “There will be a variety of other things they’ll engage in that could be a different experience in 21st century learning for K-12 kids in those foundational years.”

The superintendent also pointed out there will be an increased amount of programs available for Grade 4 students that are typically offered to older students, such as Spanish lessons.

“I believe parents of our Grade 3 students went away very pleased with hearing the type of facility that Lawrence Grassi is and the options that are going to be created for their children moving,” he said of the last meeting.

“I think people have had the opportunity to have their questions answered and if they do have any more, they know our doors are always open to further discussion before I bring it to the board in March,” he added.

In addition to grade reconfiguration, the school board has examined other possibilities of generating revenue to put money back into schools and take advantage of unused space.

For example, the Alpenglow Community School is interested in becoming an alternative program within the high school in Canmore, but would need to ensure they have a certain number of students interested in order to be self-sustaining, MacPhee said.

As well as the previously reported outdoor education centre, which is currently under the eyes of Alberta Parks, CPRS is also examining the possibility of a student dormitory to house international students and offer other new programming.

CRPS is the fourth biggest international student program in the province with approximately 50 students.

Though the superintendent said the idea is still in the early stages, he pointed out the school board owns a piece of land roughly six lots in size directly behind the day care that could work if the project gets the go ahead.


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