With no easy choices, the School District No. 83 Board of Education continues to grapple with the Long Range Facilities Plan (LRFP) options for the greater Salmon Arm area.
Pressures around enrollment, too many transitions, many different grade configurations, and the costs of proposed options are all factors driving the change. Agreement on how to move forward has not yet been reached for the greater Salmon Arm area. Other areas have been decided and a working group will now be formed to start preparing for the grade configuration change in the Armstrong area.
At its Special Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, May 26th, at 6 p.m., trustees passed a motion to direct the Office of the Superintendent to develop a draft Terms of Reference for a Long Range Facilities Plan Working Group, with the scope of work focused on the recommendation and implementation set out in Schedule E of the LRFP, and that first priority be given to implementing the Armstrong option, and further planning and implementation of options for Salmon Arm.
Once established, this multi-partner working group will begin planning in greater detail for the implementation of the changes for Armstrong schools in September 2022-23. This framework will then be ready to go for when the Board reaches a decision for the Salmon Arm area.
During the meeting, it was moved that the Board consider a kindergarten to grade 6, grade 7-10, and grade 11-12 model option, however this did not receive support from the majority of trustees. Among the reasons for not supporting the motion included that this configuration meant more portables were required at various elementary schools and that the district would not be following the Ministry’s graduation program of having grades 10-12 together.
At a previous meeting trustees had asked for information on the costs of developing Shuswap Middle School as the second high school and changing Jackson to the middle school.
Director of Operations Travis Elwood put together an estimate of about $800,000 to have Shuswap school able to provide the necessary elective opportunities of a secondary school.
He then estimated it would be cost approximately $300,000 to convert specialty rooms back to standard classroom spaces to allow Jackson to accommodate the middle school model and population.
Elwood also put together some possible upgrading options for Jackson (see chart), at approximately $1.65 million.
Approximately an hour was also spent on answering questions from the public on the long range facilities plan from the previous board meeting and at this one.
VIEW RECORDING OF MEETING AND QUESTIONS HERE (Scroll down to Board Meeting Recordings)
In April staff put together information for trustees about the proposed options.
Option E4: Capacity Insights for One Secondary School
Maximizing Sullivan campus enrollment as a means to reduce portable costs should be a key component of this conversation. Current course request data for three cohorts was matched to current facilities, and it was more promising than first expected. However, capacity and efficiency of use would need to be improved through the following means:
· Utilize all classrooms in all blocks rather than preserving them for teacher preparation
· Increase course opportunities outside the timetable
· Close the Wellness Center and the IAP/CCP programs and convert these spaces to classrooms
· Triple or quadruple book the gymnasium in all blocks
· Convert one math room to a science room
· Relocate blocks of art beyond 8 to regular classrooms or cap enrollment
· Move wood shop classes back to Jackson
Staff believes that with these changes in place and very thoughtful and stringent timetable building, the Sullivan site capacity could again be as high as 750-800 with just 2-3 portables, even with the restored language in place. Another 4-5 portables would then be required within the next five years to timetable the Baragar projected enrollment requirement of 1000 for three cohorts. While the two middle schools in this model would remain well under capacity, remember that Option E4 requires an additional cohort of students to remain in Salmon Arm elementary schools, which would require another 4-6 portables in addition to the above.
The previously listed compromises could reduce the costs for E5 from $5M-$6M down to as low as $3M-$4M over the next five years, depending on utilization, timetabling, and enrollment changes.
Option E5: Capacity Insights for Two Secondary Schools
This model has the potential to accommodate the 1,340 students projected by Baragar in the four cohorts more efficiently, because the schools would not be impacted by the differences in cohort size in the same way, and the catchment boundaries could be adjusted to better match available space. That being said, enrollment is projected to increase beyond current capacity, which will require 2-3 portables in addition to the 2 that have been ordered for the Jackson campus for 2021-21.
Given current projections, this model requires no more portables at elementary. If rural K-8 schools remain in their current configuration, Shuswap Middle would likely require a portable in 2023. This gives a projected portable cost of $1M over the next five years, depending on utilization, timetabling, and enrollment changes.
Earlier in the meeting, Superintendent of Schools Peter Jory summarized the Board’s extensive consultation process in support of this plan, including First Nations, school and district staff, parents, students, and local politicians from each community across SD83. He also noted that although research on school configuration varies widely, and that there is no agreement on any single best configuration, it is clear that student connection to staff and context are extremely important to a successful learning environment, and that fewer transitions are better for student
Several other sub-themes are also apparent:
• Transitions negatively impact student who are at risk to a greater degree
• Transitions that occur later correlate with a higher level of dropout rates
• Younger students often achieve at higher levels when in school with older students. Student leadership, culture, and access to curricular expertise may all be factors.
• An additional transition should only be considered if the above factors can be improved as a result
The Board of Education has been working on its Long Range Facilities Plan since 2019. From January through March of 2020, the Board participated in a series of consultation sessions with First Nations, school and district staff, parents, students, and local politicians from each community across the School District, and discussed local and regional student enrollment projections, along with building conditions and capacities. Stakeholder feedback was collected via an electronic survey, emails, ballot boxes, and by recorders at each session, and shared with the Board at that time. The LRFP was adopted in October 2020.
Research Page: Click on this link to get access to a page with a collection of research on school configurations and transitions
What is a Long Range Facilities Plan?
A District-wide long range facilities plan (LRFP) forms the basis for capital investment decisions in school facilities.
A LRFP should take into consideration:
- educational program requirements and trends;
- current and 10-15 year projections in enrolments, and community demographics;
- operating capacities, utilization and condition of existing facilities, including temporary accommodation and/or rental facilities
- current and anticipated changes in land use;
- future trends or anticipated new initiatives, including both those of the school district and the government; and
- transportation of students
with the fundamental premise of a LRFP being to provide a mechanism for school districts to demonstrate they are managing their facilities in an effective, economic and efficient way in support of their educational goals.