SD73 considers moving rural Grade 7 students to high schools

By Greg Fry
March 12, 2018 - 3:46pm

KAMLOOPS — Parents, students, and staff in Chase, Clearwater and Barriere will have their chance this week to let trustees in School District 73 know how they feel about the idea of moving Grade 7 students to high schools.

It is the second phase of the district's consultation plan and will include public meetings in Clearwater Tuesday, Barriere on Wednesday, and in Chase on Thursday. All meetings start at 6:30 p.m. and will take place at the high schools in those communities. 

The meetings follow Phase 1 of the consultation plan, which involved information sessions in each community and an online survey.

Superintendent of Schools Alison Sidow says the discussion was sparked by a number of people in all three communities who were interested in exploring a slightly different education model for Grade 7 students.

"And one way to do that is by moving Grade Sevens up to the high school where we have a lot of room and access to specialty facilities such as shops and home economics rooms," she says. "To provide the Sevens and the Eights with the opportunity to learn together and learn in a more problem based way. There's just an opportunity there for us to use the facilities and to provide a rich learning experience."

Sidow says reaction to the first phase of consultation was mixed.

"Some parents feel that Grade Seven students are just too young. Why rush it? Why do we have to put them into high school so soon? It's a very valid concern and we're listening very carefully to that," she says.

"But some parents are very interested. They think there's an opportunity to learn in a new way, to learn through a cohort of Grade Seven and Eight students. So, they're interested in exploring what that might look like and other kids are just indifferent."

Following the feedback sessions a final report will be submitted to the Board of Education for presentation on April 23.

"With options and a potential recommendation from district staff and that's what the board wiill deliberate on," says Sidow. "I may offer several options for the board to consider or, in the case of some communities, if there's clear direction I may offer a recommendation to move in a particular direction and the board will deliberate and say yes or no."

She adds it won't be an "all or nothing decision" noting the plan could potentially go ahead in one or two communities and not in the others.

Sidow says the intent would be for the change to go into effect next September but notes that could be delayed a year if the board sees fit.


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