Faced with ongoing budget challenges, caused in large part by declining rural school populations, the Battle River School Division Board of Trustees passed a series of motions at their January 23 meeting that will allow them to consider the possible closure or consolidation of some of the Division’s smaller schools, effective June 30, 2020.
The Board voted to consider:
- Closure of Allan Johnstone School in Hardisty;
- Closure of Round Hill School;
- Relocating Grades 10 to 12 from Ryley School and consolidating
Holden School and Ryley School into one K to 9 school site.
Over the next two months, the school division will compile and consider information on the potential implications of these changes and share information with families at public meetings, as well as invite input either in writing or through a presentation to the Board.
Public meetings will take place at:
- Allan Johnstone School, on Wednesday, February 12 at 7 p.m.
- Round Hill School on Thursday, February 6 at 7 p.m.
- Holden School, on Monday, February 10 at 7 p.m.
As Board Chair Norm Erickson said at the January 23 meeting, these are not decisions that will be made lightly.
“We’ve been watching the enrollments of these schools; we’ve been considering a wide range of actions that will help us address our budget shortfall; and we’ve been listening to our stakeholders input to the online consultation process. There are lot of difficult decisions to make. We have to put all options on the table for consideration.”
The Board will vote on whether or not to proceed with these closures and consolidations on Thursday, March 19.
These deliberations are likely only the beginning of possible changes to educational services Battle River School Division will make for next year.
Battle River School Division announced in December that they had depleted their available reserves in order to balance the current year budget without making big reductions in staffing or implementing fees for parents. With no reserves available in the future, BRSD cannot continue to provide services the same way. Many changes will have to be made for next school year, which begins in September 2020.
Round Two of Public Consultation generates lots of thoughts
More than 900 people took part in the second round of the school division’s online public consultation between December 13 and Jan. 10.
The question was: What are the best ways to balance class sizes and maximize options and opportunities for all students, while maintaining the financial viability of our school division?
Responses indicate there is strong support for maintaining school-based staffing levels as much as possible and focusing changes and reductions outside of classrooms, including by reducing division-level staff.
In addition, there were a number of specific suggestions. Here is a ranked listing, based on the number of people who brought each suggestion forward:
- closing or combining schools
- increasing technology use
- considering a 4-day school week
- adjusting school attendance boundaries
- reducing PD
- charging fees
- and more.
The Board will take all these comments and suggestions into consideration as they plan for the coming years.
The Board approved the school calendar for the 2020-2021 school year. Students will begin classes on Tuesday, September 1 and have their last day on Tuesday, June 29, with the last day for staff being June 30. The complete calendar will be posted on the BRSD website at brsd.ab.ca
BRSD retains COR status with WCB
The school division went through a safety audit last fall, in order to maintain their Certificate of Recognition status with the Workers’ Compensation Board, which demonstrates a commitment to providing safe work places and also leads to a reduction in our WCB premiums.
- information from the January 23, 2020 meeting of the BRSD Board of Trustees