School District 83 continues to focus on Shuswap Middle School with new options under consideration for the district’s long-range facilities plan. (Shuswap Middle School/Facebook)

School District 83 continues to focus on Shuswap Middle School with new options under consideration for the district’s long-range facilities plan. (Shuswap Middle School/Facebook)

New options, new school considered by North Okanagan-Shuswap school district

Public input wanted for proposed reconfigurations of Salmon Arm schools

A new school in the South Shuswap and a reconfiguration of grades at Shuswap Middle School are among two of the latest facilities planning changes being considered by School District 83.

Two new options specific to Salmon Arm in the school district’s long-range facilities plan will be presented for public feedback in an upcoming online survey. Before that, on Nov. 12, the school district is hosting an online consultation session, starting at 6 p.m., to gather feedback.

For the “Salmon Arm zone,” three earlier considerations in SD83’s long-range facilities plan were taken off the table at the school board’s May 2020 meeting. One included transitioning the middle school (currently Grades 6 to 8) and the two Salmon Arm Secondary campuses, Jackson and Sullivan, to Grades 7 to 12. Another option had the middle school becoming a K-7 elementary school, with the two secondary campuses running Grades 8 to 12.

In one of the new options being considered, the school district would run Grades 7 to 9 at the middle school and at Jackson. Elementary schools, including North and South Canoe, would become K to 6 (in January 2020, the school board voted to make South Canoe a K to 8 school for one year), and the SAS Sullivan campus Grades 10 to 12.

While this option relieves pressure on the middle school, according to SD83, it puts additional pressure on the Sullivan campus which could have to accommodate 260 more students. As this would exceed the school’s capacity, portables would be required.

Read more: Options for Salmon Arm schools costly, funding for new capital unlikely

Read more: South Canoe Elementary made K-8 for one year

Read more: Two Grade 7-9 middle schools among options considered for Salmon Arm and area

With the second option, the middle school remains status quo, while the Jackson campus takes on Grades 9 to 12. Elementary schools, including North and South Canoe, become K to 5 schools. Foreseeable challenges with this option include a need for additional elementary school space, ongoing pressure on the middle school and the need to reorganize programs and boundaries for the secondary schools.

Another option being considered by the board is the construction of a new school for Grades 8 to 12 in Sorrento. This would serve students from that community as well as from Carlin and the North Shuswap. According to the school district, though this option is positive for Sorrento (students wouldn’t have to commute to Salmon Arm), the loss of Grade 8 students at Carlin would be significant.

For the online consultation session, school district trustees and staff will be at the District Education Support Centre (DESC) in Salmon Arm, while parents and community can join virtually via livestream. Those attending the meeting virtually will be able to ask questions through a question-and-answer function of the livestream. There will also be some limited seating at the DESC (COVID-19 protocols will be in place) for those wishing to attend in-person. To join the livestream, a website address is available on the school district’s website.

The survey opens at 8 p.m. on Nov. 12, and closes at 4 p.m. on Nov. 27. The survey link can be found at sd83.bc.ca.

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