Gold Trail Superintendent Teresa Downs concluded a report on the District’s recent round of Community Consultations with recommendations to close George M. Murray Elementary in Lillooet, and to consider closing Ashcroft Elementary School and restructure it with Ashcroft Secondary School.
The report was tabled at the District’s Education Committee meeting last week and won’t be discussed or voted on until the Board meets on Feb. 22 in Lytton.
“We want to consider all options,” said Downs. “If the Board adopts our recommendations, we’ll enter into 60 day process and hear all the options the communities can give us.”
Unfortunately, School District 74 has the fastest declining enrolment in BC. The Board has closed schools in Spences Bridge, Big Bar, Venables Valley and Clinton in the past few years. Last year they considered closures in Lytton and Gold Bridge, but did not go through with them.
Downs said that school closures will stop as soon as the District’s enrolment stabilizes, “but we see another five years of decline.”
“It’s our goal to keep a school open in every community,” she said.
During the community consultations, participants were asked a number of questions, only some relating to facilities. Downs said staff and trustees heard an acceptance of K-12 schools. Clinton’s high school became a K-12 last Fall when the elementary school was closed.
“I think Clinton is a testament that K-12 can actually work,” said Downs, noting that the older students are helping to coach and mentor the younger students.
If the Board decides to go to consultation, one topic to be discussed will be how two separate schools will be integrated under one roof.
Another recommendation stemming from the consultations called for reconfiguring the two storey Lytton Elementary School which has less than 75 students. She said the town will help determine how that happens. The community told them last year that they did not want their schools combined.
Downs invited anyone with questions about the recommendations to talk to her or Lynda Minnabarriet at the Board office.