No set timeline for decision on Houston school closure

At the Houston Secondary School library on Feb. 15, over 45 people attended the public meeting about the possible school closure. (Houston Today file photo)

At the Houston Secondary School library on Feb. 15, over 45 people attended the public meeting about the possible school closure. (Houston Today file photo)

The future of education in Houston is still uncertain.

Although the closure of Silverthorne Elementary is a possibility – which would leave the community with only one elementary school – it’s still unclear when that decision will be made.

“The timeline of any school closure is dependent on many issues – finances and enrolment being the big two variables – and therefore cannot be predicted given necessary board discussions and public consultations,” explained Dave Margerm, secretary treasurer for School District 54 (Bulkley Valley).

Margerm said the school district board plans to review the facility structures this spring as part of their budget process, and will likely have an update on the possibility of any Houston school reconfigurations.

“The annual facility review also happens again in the fall of 2018, where the discussion of the Houston facilities and any possible reconfigurations or closures will be addressed,” he said.

Another factor that might affect the school district’s decision on whether to close Silverthorne Elementary is the fact that funding protection for the school district would decrease if enrolment stays equal or increases.

“Enrolment is projected to increase next year, but at this time the school district is unsure of the exact amount that funding protection may be reduced,” said Margerm. “The board will not only consider decreases in funding, but also any increases or decreases to enrolment and relative capacity in the two Houston elementary schools.”

Margerm estimates the savings from closing a school to be $300,000-400,000 per year in operating costs. School District 54 administration has insisted no teachers would be laid off, though administrative positions would be lost.