Parents at the proposed school amalgamation in Ashcroft listen.

Ashcroft parents skeptical of planned school merger

Approximately 60 parents attended a meeting held by School District 74 to discussed the proposed amalgamation of Ashcroft's two schools.

Parents and residents met in Ashcroft’s high school gym last week to get answers about the school board’s proposed amalgamation of the town’s only elementary school with the high school.

Roughly 75 people, including about 20 staff and board members, gathered around tables to  formulate questions and feedback for Gold Trail School District.

Some parents were supportive of the amalgamation, hoping that the increase in numbers under one school roof would result in more elective class options such as the reopening of the shop class. Some parents wanted to ensure that the redesign to accommodate the elementary students was well-thought out for young minds and bodies. And some parents were just dead set against it, wondering why it had to be Ashcroft Elementary and not Cache Creek, and why more money hadn’t been spent on renovations to bring AES up to standard.

Basketball and fitness coach Vicky Trill said her only concern would be the gym. “How are we going to have time for community groups?” she asked. On the other hand, she added, it would provide an “awesome opportunity” for the grade 7s and 8s to play on the same team.

Principal Colleen Minnabarriet replied to a question about the Ashcroft K-12 design available at the meeting by saying that it was very much a draft design, and that if the board decided to pursue the amalgamation of schools, many meetings would be held to design the reconfigured school.

She and other staff members stressed that the high school had plenty of room to house the high school students along with the elementary.

One parent asked why they didn’t close Cache Creek Elementary as well and move them into the high school.

“The board has indicated that they value having a school in every community,” Superintendent Teresa Down replied.

Director of Facitlities, Mitch van Aller, said the Ministry gives each school district a set amount of funding every year for capital projects, under which renovations fall. He said the lump sum divided equally among all of the District’s schools amounts to about $87,000 per year, and it is never enough to keep up with the upgrades that are needed. AES needs over $5 million to successfully bring it up to standard, but the Ministry won’t approve it.

Van Aller said they have more chance of getting extra dollars from the Ministry if they have one school full of children, rather than two schools that are operating at less than half full.

Some parents wondered if the District’s rumoured $6 million surplus could be used to fix AES. Chief Financial Officer Lynda Minnabarriet said the District had only a $2.2 million surplus as of June, and much of it did go into renovations. She said upgrades across the District would cost approximately $50 million.

“My concern as superintendent of this District is that if we continue down this path, with all the “poor” condition schools,” said Downs, “we will have to reduce student support in order to pay for the buildings.”

The board of trustees is holding a special open meeting in Ashcroft on Nov. 20 to discuss and vote on the recommendation to close AES and restructure the high school as a K-12.

If they decide to accept the recommendation, they will begin planning how the combined school will be put together.

Just Posted

3 dead after semi-truck collides with car on B.C. Interior highway

Police said the intersection between Highway 97 and Highway 99 would remain closed for some time

Cache Creek Elementary School wins $100,000 in playground improvements

The school was one of three winners in the BCAA Play Here initiative.

115 new wildfires burning across B.C. due to 19,000 lightning strikes

More fires expected to start today, says BC Wildfire Service officials

New community paramedic is no stranger to the area

Philip Schuberg is looking forward to his new role helping residents with their health care needs.

Marijuana to be legal in Canada Oct. 17: Trudeau

Prime Minister made the announcement during question period in the House of Commons

B.C. BMX kid wows GoPro with homemade video

Eight-year-old Rex Johnson wins award for inventive video

UPDATE: Police say story of pretend cops ‘arresting’ woman in CRA scam fake

Vancouver police urge people not take calls from anyone saying they’re from the Canada Revenue Agency

Almost 2,400 young athletes set to compete at BC Summer Games

Full list of participants was released Friday for the Cowichan Valley event

Family raises money for B.C. man burned in campfire mishap

Harold Duncan-Williams suffered first, second and third degree burns when his shirt caught on fire

Canucks ink Markus Granlund to one-year extension

Finnish forward’s contract is worth US$1.475 million

Warning issued as swimmer dies, boater missing this week in B.C. waters

Coroner says statistics show a spike in drownings beginning in May and rising through August

Around 40,000 lightning strikes and over 200 new fires in B.C. in the past two days

‘We’re expecting that the worst of the lightning is now over’

PHOTO: Shark spotted near Vancouver beach

Woman snaps photo of a seal, heron and what’s believed to be a Pacific spiny dogfish

Possibly lightning-caused fire burns within metres of homes in Kamloops

Grass fire remains under control by BC Wildfire Service

Most Read