Future of Satinwood School in question

Staff, parents, and students are hoping to make the 2013-14 school year at Satinwood School its best yet, because it may well be its last.

Staff, parents, and students are hoping to make the 2013-14 school year at Satinwood School its best yet, because it may well be its last.

At its Tuesday meeting, the Wolf Creek Public School Division board passed a motion to direct superintendent Larry Jacobs to explore the ongoing operations of the rural kindergarten to Grade 6 school and present a report back to the board in the spring. The board would then have three options relating to the school’s future — leaving the school open, closing it or modifying its grade structure.

Jacobs said the invocation of the school closure process does not always result in a school’s closure. In compiling his final report, Jacobs and division administration will be examining aspects such as population demographics and busing requirements and will encourage community engagement in the process.

Lisa Stewart, whose daughter is in Grade 5 at the school, said it is “incredibly sad” that this point has been reached. She said the school — with an total enrolment of 38 students, down from 54 in 2011-12 — is one where students score high marks on provincial achievement tests and teachers know every student, and vice versa.

“It’s pretty much like sending your child to a private school for your basic school fees,” she said.

The school is located about 15 minutes east of Blackfalds near the Joffre Nova Chemicals plant. Stewart, who leads the school’s parent association, had proposed changing the busing catchment area in the division to bring more students to the school and alleviate some pressure from fast-growing Blackfalds, which has full schools.

“We feel as parents that we have presented a lot of possible solutions to the board but they don’t seem to be budging or willing to make changes for us. It’s frustrating,” she said.

If the school is slated for closure, its students would be bused to Clive or Lacombe starting next fall.

The province allocates money to divisions to give to schools on a per-student basis and, with an enrolment of 38 students, Jacobs said that funding would allow for less than two teachers and no support staff for Satinwood School. But this year, the school has 3.7 teachers, plus support staff, which makes it about two times as expensive to educate a student at Satinwood as compared to other division schools.

“Communities never like to lose their schools and superintendents don’t like to be part of a process that closes them, but it’s a recognition of the world we live in and the things that can happen sometimes to small rural schools,” he said.

Jacobs said he expects the local resistance to closure has softened somewhat over the years as alternatives have been explored. He said the school community has been very proactive in attempting to find solutions and has been a partner through the whole process up to this point.

The division has provided $212,572 over the last four years to the school for support as options for long-term sustainability were examined. One of those options looked at was a modified calendar that would have had the school open nearly year round, but that plan never came to fruition.

Other avenues explored were introducing Christian programming into the school to draw students, becoming a registrar for homeschool students, and funding the building privately to free up funds for the hiring of staff.

In June, the school council passed a motion saying it would accept the school closure process in exchange for one more year of funding.

“I think the community feels validated in the effort they put forward to investigate all possibilities. Once you’ve been given that opportunity and been a partner, it’s easier for you to say at a certain point, ‘We’ve tried everything,’ ” said Jacobs.

The superintendent’s preliminary report presented at Tuesday’s meeting cited the decline of young people getting into farming and the attraction of larger communities as demographic factors working against the school. But it also mentioned a proposed 265-lot subdivision with an 18-hole golf course for the area, a project for which there is no known timeline at present.

The division closed Mirror School in 2010 after its kindergarten to Grade 8 population dwindled to 44 children.

mfish@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Patrons practice on a putting green as the Whitestone Bridge looms in the distance at Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point in the Bronx borough of New York on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. Former President Donald Trump has a rich history of fighting back when he’s down and making others pay, and that’s exactly how he intends to deal with New York City over its plans to fire his company from running the city golf course. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Dump Trump? Kicking him off NYC golf course may not be easy

Trump Organization has been reeling after the Capitol riots

A photo illustration made December 14, 2012 in Montreal shows a computer in chains. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Irish health system says it’s targeted in ransomware attack

Health care systems have been a target before

A woman wearing a mask talks on her phone near an exhibition depicting a rover in Mars in Beijing on Friday, May 14, 2021. China says its Mars probe and accompanying rover are to land on the red planet sometime between early Saturday morning and Wednesday Beijing time. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
China Mars rover to land between Saturday and Wednesday

Only the United States has successfully landed a spacecraft on Mars

Smoke rises following Israeli airstrikes on a building in Gaza City, Thursday, May 13, 2021. Weary Palestinians are somberly marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, as Hamas and Israel traded more rockets and airstrikes and Jewish-Arab violence raged across Israel. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Palestinians flee as Israeli artillery pounds northern Gaza

Israel called up 9,000 reservists as fighting intensifies

Bo’s Bar and Grill owner Brennen Wowk said the hospitality industry is looking for more clarity from the province around what conditions must be met to allow for restaurants reopening. (Advocate file photo)
Frustated restaurant owners want to know government’s reopening plan

Restaurant owners feel they are in lockdown limbo

Team Canada’s head coach Troy Ryan talks with players before the start of the of the Rivalry Series at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, February 3, 2020. Ryan of Spryfield, N.S., has been named head coach of Canada’s women’s hockey team for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Troy Ryan to coach Canadian women’s hockey team in 2022 Winter Olympics

Ryan was Canada’s assistant coach from 2016 to 2019

FILE- In this April 19, 2021, file photo, people wearing masks as a precaution against the coronavirus wait to test for COVID-19 at a hospital in Hyderabad, India. Misinformation about the coronavirus is surging in India as the death toll from COVID-19 rises. Fueled by anguish, distrust and political polarization, the claims are further compounding India’s crisis. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A, File)
Misinformation surges amid India’s COVID-19 calamity

Distrust of Western vaccines and health care also driving misinformation

FILE - In this Friday March 6, 2020, file photo, Britain’s Prince Harry visits the Silverstone Circuit, in Towcester, England. In an episode of the “Armchair Expert” podcast broadcast Thursday, May 13, 2021, Prince Harry compared his royal experience to being on “The Truman Show” and “living in a zoo.” (Peter Nicholls/Pool Photo via AP, File)
Prince Harry thought about quitting royal life in his 20s

Feared his family would have to deal with the same spotlight that was on his late mother

Opinion
Mental health: Gossiping, backbiting and forming factions is unhealthy

We all know of dysfunctional organizations, which can be as troublesome as… Continue reading

Family practice physician Christina Tuomi, D.O., (right) gets Homer's first dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine from Emergency Department nurse Steve Hughes (left) on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020 at South Peninsula Hospital in Homer, Alaska. Tuomi has been the hospital's medical lead throughout the pandemic. (Photo courtesy Derotha Ferraro/South Peninsula Hospital)
Alberta physicians: Vaccines are our path forward

As the AMA representatives for Alberta’s family physicians, we were immensely relieved… Continue reading

Vancouver Canucks' Nils Hoglander, right, is checked by Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom during third-period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Thursday, May 13, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Lindholm, Tkachuk lead Calgary Flames in 4-1 win over Vancouver Canucks

Lindholm, Tkachuk lead Calgary Flames in 4-1 win over Vancouver Canucks

Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine, right, drives to the basket against Toronto Raptors center Khem Birch, left, and guard Jalen Harris during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago, Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
LaVine, Markkanen lead Bulls past Raptors, 114-102

LaVine, Markkanen lead Bulls past Raptors, 114-102

Most Read