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Penticton  

Community fights to keep school

Naramata Elementary School is looking at ways to increase its enrolment, after experiencing a drop in numbers.

Principal Todd Lindsay said there are only 64 students attending this school year, compared to 74 in 2012-2013.

"The whole school district has seen a decline in enrolment for a number of years, but because we are a smaller school it's more noticeable and has a greater effect on us," he said.

The situation was created by factors including a higher number of students going on to middle school and fewer students entering kindergarten, as well as some moving away.

What it means is unless the school gains in numbers, there is the potential for it to be down a division for next year.

"Currently we have four divisions with five teachers, so potentially if the numbers don't grow, we will be down to three divisions for 2014-2015," he said.

Lindsay said he and parents want to get the word out now to make the community aware of the situation. This is also coming at a time when the 100-year-old school is celebrating its centennial.

The PAC has already produced a brochure that has been distributed to realtors with properties for sale in the Naramata area to emphasize to prospective buyers Naramata is a good place to raise a family and the school is deeply rooted in the community.

Lindsay emphasizes that Naramata Elementary is a unique school, offering art projects and field trips, far above what many Penticton schools offer.

"We have a strong PAC allowing us to do a lot with a small number of kids," he said.

The principal further stressed there are already Penticton students who bus in from the city to the school.

Parents have additionally pointed out that many parents in the city may not realize they can send their children to Naramata Elementary, despite being in the Uplands catchment area.

"With our enrolment shrinking, we are coming up with proactive ways to promote the school," said Lindsay. "We really want to make people aware we have a fantastic program out here in our small community."

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