Sense of community drives creation of school

The proposed learning centre in Sun Peaks may be small, but it comes with a lot of benefits for students, said the chair of the Sun Peaks Education Society.

“Our plan is to have everything they’ll have at a regular school and more,” said Maria Cannon, a Sun Peaks parent and chair of the non-profit education society behind the proposed learning centre, newly named the Discovery Centre for Balanced Education.

The committee plans to implement a four-day school week in Sun Peaks similar to the set up in Big White’s Boundary School.
“The four-day week is a preference at this stage. We will look for further input from parents on that,” said Cannon.

Recent reports say that a four-day school week has been gaining popularity down south. Over 120 school districts in the U.S. have initially changed over to this system to make the most of their dwindling budgets, but they’re seeing additional benefits like higher test scores, attendance and graduation rates because of the change.

A 2009 US study on schools that implement a four-day school week found that the setup has garnered widespread public support and brought some financial savings to the schools. In some cases, it had a positive impact on the students’ academic performance; in others, the performance was the same prior to the implementation. However, the report cautions that benefits must be weighed against things like childcare needs on that one extra day off.

Cannon said that a four-day week will give children more time with family. It will also allow families to maximize the benefits of living in a ski resort.

The school will also have a small class size. Cannon said that compared to a regular classroom with at most 30 students in a class, this alternative setup will give students more one-on-one time with the instructor.

Parents have expressed interest in enrolling at least 18 students this year, and at least 25 for next year.

Dean Coder, principal of the @KOOL program, feels that a one-room schoolhouse will be beneficial for the kids because it fosters a unique sense of community.

“In a one-room schoolhouse, everybody knows each other. You tend to develop a closer sense of community and you start to rely on each other.”

Coder said he and his children were educated in and greatly benefitted from a similar school setting. “For us, there was a sense of community that the school had which you cannot replicate in a larger, brick and mortar school. I think that’s the biggest advantage.”

The next step is a fundraising drive to cover the school’s operational cost. Information will be sent out to the community with details on fundraising events. A tour of the facility is available on Canada Day.

E-mail for more information.

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