Column: Students deserve say in changes to Salmon Arm schools

Rearview Mirror by Cameron Thomson

The most important voices in conversations about grade layouts and school district decisions may be going unheard.

Over the last few months, I have become increasingly interested in School District 83’s long-range facilities plan. The logistics, projections, and grade layout options shown in the plan present endlessly debatable conundrums for teachers and parents alike.

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

Read more: School district facing capacity challenges

To its credit, the district is making an admirable effort to educate the public on the plan. Information sessions, online surveys and updates posted to the district’s online platforms have answered questions for many, I’m sure.

I attended one of these information sessions last week at Ranchero Elementary. The meeting was attended by approximately 30 people, district representatives, parents, school board trustees and teachers. Following a presentation by school superintendent Peter Jory, the proverbial mic was passed to the crowd.

The discussions were passionate, advocating for students to go through fewer transitions in their young academic careers. Potential solutions for grade layouts throughout the district were thoughtfully considered and tough questions received responses.

It later donned on me, however, that the people these decisions will affect the most were nowhere to be found. While parents might consider aspects like bussing times and the effects of multiple transitions between schools for their children, I wonder what the students themselves think.

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

Read more: Student enrolment for 2019/20 exceeds School District #83 projections

Students with friends in different grades may be looking forward to being reunited with their pals; perhaps they are feeling more than ready for a change of scenery. Conversely, they could be the strongest voices in support of K-8 schools. After all, they are the ones living it.

My hope is that when the district survey goes live in the last week of February, parents will ask for their children’s input before submitting it. Don’t let youth be a reason to discredit opinions. I also encourage students to look at the layout options relevant to them and pass their thoughts along to executive assistant Veronica Deacon at vdeacon@sd83.bc.ca.


@CameronJHT
Cameron.thomson@saobserver.net

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