Kamloops-Thompson school trustees have rejected moving forward with a proposed outdoor school in Chase, agreeing with a recommendation from staff.
According to outgoing assistant superintendent of elementary, Rob Schoen, additional costs to the district, a lack of response from parents and the fact Haldane elementary already has a strong focus on the outdoors led to the recommendation.
In October, the school district approved a study to determine the feasibility of establishing an outdoor school in Chase within Haldane elementary. The study examined factors such as staffing requirements, transportation needs, facility requirements and parental interest in the program.
The feasibility study found the school already has an emphasis on the outdoors, along with a strong environmental program that has won multiple awards since 1992.
The kindergarten classes spend Wednesdays learning outdoors, a Grade 6 class has regular outdoor learning sessions and the Haldane parent advisory committee has raised $20,000 to build an outdoor classroom space.
Schoen told trustees on Monday that the Haldane elementary property is not an ideal outdoor learning environment, noting there would be increased staffing and transportation costs to the district as a result.
He also noted just 21 per cent of parents responded to a survey on the outdoor school and there were three communities — the Little Shuswap, Neskonlith and Adams Lake First Nations — that felt they weren’t given an opportunity to provide feedback.
Schoen suggested more time is required to engage local First Nations in such pursuits.
The idea for an outdoor, kindergarten to Grade 6 school of choice in Chase came to the board in May from representatives of a parent working group.
According to Schoen, Haldane’s natural transition toward more outdoor learning provides the parental working group, Haldane staff and the broader community a chance to work together to better utilize and access the natural learning environments in the vicinity.