SD 54 will discuss the grade reconfiguration and give the public an opportunity to give their feedback. (Houston Today file photo)

SD 54 will discuss the grade reconfiguration and give the public an opportunity to give their feedback. (Houston Today file photo)

School District 54 mulls over Houston schools’ reconfiguration

A presentation for public to take place during the annual facilities’ review

School District 54 (SD 54) has been wanting to reconfigure Houston’s elementary school grades for a while now and finally held a meeting with the schools to discuss their future.

“My understanding is long before I arrived in this District, people have talked about reconfiguring. It is sort of a long-standing discussing,” said Superintendent Mike McDiarmid.

The school district invited staff from Houston schools in the first week of November, to start the discussions around the grade reconfigurations at the elementary schools in Houston. What this means is that the school district wants to make Silverthorne Elementary School into a focused primary school and to shift Twain Sullivan’s focus completely to intermediate levels.

“We just had an additional discussion with the staff of those three schools around our reconfiguration of the grade levels. The three schools are about half-enrolled and for a long time we were even considering possibly a school closure but we received a grant to open daycare space over at Silverthorne. So as those pre-K kids were coming to Silverthorne, we thought this was a good time to add all the primary students to silverthorne and all the intermediate students to Twain Sullivan,” said McDiarmid.

Earlier this year, Silverthorne was approved for a $1.5 million funding from the Ministry of Children and Family Development, to include a variety of new childcare spaces. So Silverthorne would be a primary school with daycare space; so for younger students. It will be ideally situated to have primary school there.

“With the daycare, it seems like a good place as we can focus on early learning at Silverthorne and we strongly feel that all the intermediate students, older students in elementary, will have the benefit of attending Twain Sullivan,” said McDiarmid.

He also said that in the last few years Intermediate students at Twain Sullivan have been able to access Houston Secondary School to do lot of special programming so they were able to use the shops, the foods room and the bigger gymnasium; “So the intermediate students at Twain have had lots of opportunities to visit the school and the kids at Silverthorne haven’t had that opportunity,” he added.

During the discussion with the staff, while they did have some questions around the reconfiguration, they also recognized the benefit of getting the grades reconfigured in this manner. The school district is now set to hold a presentation giving the public an opportunity to understand what the grade reconfiguration would look like, the rationale behind it and a chance for the public to give their feedback. The presentation will take place during the annual facilities review, in Smithers on Nov. 24 during the November Board Meeting at the school board office and in Houston at the Houston Secondary School, on Nov. 26 at 7 p.m.

“It is basically a big learning opportunity for both groups of kids,” said McDiarmid adding that this wouldn’t affect the staff positions and classes. The teachers would be asked whether they want to continue teaching primary or move to a different grade and accordingly, they will have to move to either of the two schools.

The school district is looking to finalize the grade reconfiguration for next September.

“We are quite a ways away still and we have a lot of time do proper planning,” said McDiarmid.