Jon Broadbent, a teacher at Summerland Middle School, was one of many parents and teachers who spoke at a public hearing about proposed school closures. One of the options under consideration is to close Giant’s Head Elementary School and use Summerland Middle School for students from Kindergarten to Grade 7.

Jon Broadbent, a teacher at Summerland Middle School, was one of many parents and teachers who spoke at a public hearing about proposed school closures. One of the options under consideration is to close Giant’s Head Elementary School and use Summerland Middle School for students from Kindergarten to Grade 7.

Council opposed to potential school closure

Summerland’s mayor and councillors have spoken out against the proposed closure of Giant’s Head School.

Summerland’s mayor and councillors have spoken out against the proposed closure of Giant’s Head School.

The school closure is among nine options considered by the Okanagan Skaha School Board in an effort to trim costs.

“Mayor Waterman and council do not support the closure of any school in Summerland,” a statement from the municipality reads. “A loss of a school facility is not consistent with our priorities for the future of Summerland which focus on economic health, encouraging development of land to increase available housing options, and the promotion of Summerland as a highly attractive community for families.”

The statement adds that the school enrolment projections from the school district do not match municipal council’s vision for growth.

Mayor Peter Waterman said there are housing developments which have been approved and others which are in the process of receiving council approval.

These include Hunters Hill and several developments in Trout Creek.

“In total, we’ve got between 200 and 300 lots pending or already in action,” he said.

This year, until the end of November, 192 building permits had been approved, with a total value of more than $24 million.

During the same period of time in 2014, 126 permits, with a value of $11.5 million, had been approved.

Linda Van Alphen, chair of the school board, said the board has discussed the problem of declining enrolment numbers.

“Shortly after the last municipal election our board met with some members of Summerland Council and we discussed the Long Range Facilities Plan process mandated by the Ministry and we spoke about declining enrolment,” she said.

“While mayor and council have a vision for Summerland, this vision has yet to have an impact on declining enrolments. Should they have immediate solutions to address the current issues that the board faces, we would be happy to meet with them to consider/discuss them.”

The school board has held a series of public meetings to discuss the various school closure options.

Written submissions will be accepted until Jan. 10.

At the school board meeting on Jan. 20, school trustees will decide which schools, if any, will be closed.

 

Summerland Review