Wolf Creek looking to update, enhance outreach programs

Wolf Creek Public Schools is reviewing its outreach and small high schools to see how they can support students effectively and efficiently.

Wolf Creek Public Schools is reviewing its outreach and small high schools to see how they can support students effectively and efficiently.

Jayson Lovell, acting superintendent, said the reviews will not assess the viability of the programs, but rather look at ways to update and enhance the programs.

Lovell said outreach programs in Lacombe, Ponoka and Rimbey will continue to operate.

“They provide programming supports and different kinds of services for our students that are quite frankly essential for our school division,” said Lovell on Monday.

“It’s just an opportunity for us to take a look inside how things are operating and then make recommendations for potential for changes and modifications.”

He said the review comes at a time when there is more flexibility in traditional schools due to a recent high school redesign by the provincial government. There may be some opportunity for outreach and traditional schools to create partnerships.

Enrollment has remained steady with 260 to 270 students at Lacombe Outreach School, about 250 students at Ponoka Outreach School, and 70 to 80 at West Country Outreach School in Rimbey.

Division administration has been meeting with officials at outreach schools and other schools in communities where they are located. The next meeting is on Wednesday when recommendations will be presented for feedback.

The process should be complete by the end of March to move forward with recommendations in September.

Lovell said Wolf Creek is also in the process of reviewing its small high schools — Alix-MAC School, Bentley School and Eckville Junior/Senior High School — to ensure the best programming is offered.

“We have certainly very committed and very strong small high schools. But we also recognize the uncertainly around our budget and some of those fiscal realities we see coming in the next little while.”

He said like other small high schools in rural Alberta, enrollment is declining, and there may be other ways to support programming through partnerships with outreach schools, for example.

Information from both reviews will be brought back to Wolf Creek school board for consideration prior to 2016-17 budget deliberations.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

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