by Phil Ambroziak

Class could be dismissed much sooner than expected for students and staff at two schools in northwest Saskatchewan.

During the Northwest School Division’s Oct. 8 board meeting, a motion was carried allowing for the impending review of both Dorintosh Central School and Green Acre School in Rapid View. According to director of education Duane Hauk, the reason for the reviews stems from increasingly low enrolment numbers as well as other factors.

“This year, Dorintosh only has about 25 students enrolled while there are about 42 in Rapid View – these numbers have been dropping over the last number of years,” Hauk explained.

The review will look into the viability of Kindergarten to Grade 8 at each school. It will take into account the physical condition of each building, the operational cost per student, the number of grades combined in each classroom, distribution of enrolments by grade level, projected enrolments, the condition and capacity of potential receiving schools, transportation implications and the availability of educational programming.

“The process will involve both school community councils, as well as members from both communities,” Hauk said. “We will spend a good part of the next couple months reviewing the situation and basically arrive at a decision.”

Potential options facing both schools could be to let them remain as is, grade discontinuance – meaning the schools would no longer go all they way to Grade 8, or permanently closing the schools and transporting students to another nearby facility.

“We’re forming a review committee right now and discussions will take place between this committee and the board of education between now at the New Year,” Hauk said. “A decision will absolutely have been reached by next school year.”

Chad McCord serves as SCC chair in Dorintosh, but preferred to comment as a parent rather than in his official capacity until after his group has an opportunity to meet with representatives from the school division.

“From a local perspective, however, the school needs to stay open,” McCord said. “I don’t think it’s prudent for Kindergarten or Grade 1 students to be bused to school for 45 minutes or an hour each morning and afternoon. That’s something that needs to be thought through.”

Berta Beaubien, who currently has a son attending Grade 7 at Green Acre School, agrees.

“I don’t want to see the school in Rapid View close,” she said. “Rapid View is a great community to raise children in and the small class sizes here allows for more one-on-one time between students and teachers than they’d get in a bigger community.”

Although a potential school closure could mean some children who currently attend Green Acre may be transferred to Goodsoil, Beaubien believes the majority would have to attend schools in Meadow Lake.

“Yes, kids from here move over to Meadow Lake when they reach the high school level, but it could be a big change for some of the younger students,” she added.