District defers decision on Sun Peaks school

 | May 24, 2012

With continued growth expected for the area, the Sun Peaks Education Society (SPES) and Sun Peaks Municipality have requested that School District 73 (SD73) establish a district school at Sun Peaks.

As per the report presented at the SD73 board meeting on May 14, 2012, Mayor Al Raine proposed the SPES “commit to providing and maintaining the capital requirements for a school; and, the district would provide a traditional classroom setting for the k-6 program. Students in Grades 7 to 12 would continue to be enrolled in the Distributed Learning program.”

“I thought Supt. Terry Sullivan gave a pretty fair summary of his report,” says Raine. “The discussion from the trustees mainly focused around how they didn’t want to see capital support going to Sun Peaks that would ‘jump the cue’ on the district’s existing priority list.”

If the Sun Peaks learning centre was absorbed by the district, its first year would generate an estimated deficit of $3,399 to SD73, however the second year would generate $154,101. That’s good news, according to Raine.

The report cited capital improvements, such as alterations to the classrooms, that would be required should the Discovery Centre become a district facility and noted lack of fire truck access and lack of parking as further capital considerations.

Yet, the May 14 meeting also proposed out-of-the-box solutions to the issue.

“One trustee raised the issue that. . . what we should be doing is (having) Sun Peaks build a school and (SD73) will just lease back the classrooms when (they) need them from the municipality,” explains Raine.
Going forward with a traditional or new-model partnership with Sun Peaks is something the district will have to weigh.

“The establishment of a school will have financial, staffing and educational implications for the school district. Some of these implications are unclear . . .,” says Sullivan. “Further discussion will need to occur with the municipality of Sun Peaks and school district staff regarding the cost sharing involved in the proposed partnership as well as with the Ministry of Education regarding any possible provincial contributions.”

“Provided the school doesn’t take away funding for the rest of the district, surely it should garner some support,” concludes Raine. “It will meet the needs of Sun Peaks parents, and more importantly Sun Peaks children. The really positive thing about all this is the education program at Sun Peaks has really been a major boost for the community.”

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