Opinions sought on shuffling grade offerings at local schools

Shift would take place at Silverthorne, Twain Sullivan

Opinions sought on shuffling grade offerings at local schools

A rejigging of what grades are taught at Twain Sullivan and Silverthorne could be in the offing following a School District 54 board decision made at its November meeting.

Being proposed is converting Silverthorne to a primary school of kindergarten to Grade 3 and Twain Sullivan to an intermediate school of Grade 4 to 7. Both now are kindergarten to Grade 7 schools.

The concept is now to go out for review and comment by members of the public and by stakeholders.

The board decision, for now, removes what had been discussed previously — closing Silverthorne, partially in recognition of its age but also to better balance Houston’s public school enrolment with the number of facilities it maintains.

Compared to other school district schools, all three of the Houston schools are operating at well below capacity.

But based on population information in the district’s 2019-2020 facilities review, enrolment in Houston is forecast to increase slightly after years of a decline.

“Reconfiguration of three schools into schools is always an option depending on future enrolment and District finances,” noted school district secretary treasurer Dave Margerm of discussions swirling around Houston’s public schools.

”It is not a recommendation this year as enrolment seems to be on the increase in Houston ….” he said.

A key consideration behind the possibility of changing the grading configuration at Silverthorne is adding a public daycare as well as before and after school care at the facility.

The addition of these services would then increase the utilization of the Silverthorne building.

Both services would be run by a provider other than the district and the possibility follows a provincial government policy of increasing daycare spaces around the province, including the financing to provide the service.

“The change to a primary and intermediate schools will be determined by public consultation and the decision of the superintendent and board,” noted Margerm.

“A change to integrate public daycare and before/after school care into Silverthorne will be determined by funding from the [education] ministry and decision of [the school district] superintendent,” he said.

The facilities review did point out that adding daycare services at Silverthorne would provide the opportunity to integrate the school district’s offerings with pre-kindergarten care.

And it did note that continuing to operate Silverthorne would involve applying to the education ministry for money to upgrade its mechanical systems and roof.

With reference to Houston Secondary, the facilities review offered up an approximate cost of $640,000 to solve leaks at the school as well as upgrading the gym space.

The potential changes to Silverthorne and Twain Sullivan would not affect Houston Secondary which would remain a Grade 8 to 12 school.