Salmon Arm  

Board of education eyes major changes in Shuswap schools

Shuswap school shakeup?

Salmon Arm schools could be due for a major grade shakeup.

School District No. 83 (North Okanagan-Shuswap) trustees are considering reducing the number of school transitions students go through during their education.

Currently, students go through elementary in kindergarten through Grade 5, Grades 6, 7 and 8 at Salmon Arm Middle School, Grades 9 and 10 at J.L. Jackson Secondary, and Grades 11 and 12 at Salmon Arm Secondary.

Research has shown such transitions negatively affect marginalized and at-risk students, and that transitions that occur in older grades correlate with higher dropout rates, the board of education discussed.

Younger students often achieve at greater levels when they attend school with older students, and surveys and have also shown that students, teachers, administrators and parents are all in favour of fewer transitions.

Supt. Donna Kriger noted the topic was discussed in 2019, when the board of education was looking at long-term facility planning, but high enrolment rates necessitated the current grade layout.

Looking at new data, it seems tat some of that enrolment pressure has eased.

Secretary Dale Culler presented a series of graphs showing the latest enrolment projections as well as functional and operational capacity for existing schools.

“We’re just looking at what’s possible. What would it look like if Salmon Arm schools were K-6 or K-7, where are pinch points, what are the challenges? We needed to get an idea of what is possible,” said Culler.

Kriger emphasized the board is not talking about facilities, but instead about transitions and possibilities.

“Is there a way to use our facilities to eliminate one or even two transitions for our students?” she asked.

Kriger said they're still discussing options, and that any changes would need more consultation and public engagement.

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