Mirror school in limbo

Mirror School could close as soon as the 2010-2011 school year.

Mirror School could close as soon as the 2010-2011 school year.

The Wolf Creek Public Schools superintendent outlined concerns about the viability of the kindergarten to Grade 8 school during the board of trustees meeting earlier this week. The board will vote in March 2010 on whether to close the school after the superintendent has time to prepare a detailed report.

The school — known as “The little school with a big heart” — has experienced decreasing enrolment for years. In 2006, there were 70 students attending the facility compared to 45 students this year. The students are grouped into three classes — kindergarten to Grade 3, Grade 4 and 5, and Grade 6 to 8.

Wolf Creek superintendent Larry Jacobs said the overriding factor for the board is always whether the school division is providing the best educational environment for students. But he said when the student numbers drop so do the number of teachers, meaning students are in multiple grades and don’t have access to the same kinds of extracurricular activities.

“So the educational world shrinks and that is not the fault of anybody,” Jacobs said. “We have wonderful teachers in our school division and in Mirror for certain. It’s just the numbers drive a smaller budget.”

Mirror School’s overall budget is between $325,000 to $350,000 a year, including $75,000 to $100,000 in operational costs and $250,000 in salaries. Funding for elementary and middle schools is based on the number of students attending the school.

Mirror School Principal James Gascoyne said the school has a really strong parent council and they are being kept informed as things unfold.

If the school does close, the 45 students would be bused to schools in Clive or Alix and the four teachers would be transferred to other schools in the division. The board would determine whether to give the school building to the community to be used as a community centre, to give it to another group or to sell it.

In 2005, the school division did a viability assessment for the school, but the board decided to give the community time to see if new people moved to the area.

Many divisions are expecting cuts to funding by the provincial government next year, but Jacobs said that wasn’t a factor in the possible closure of Mirror School.

sobrien@bprda.wpengine.com

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