Trustees want to hear parents’ thoughts on traditional school

Mission will be hosting a forum in the future to ask parents what is needed to keep their kids in the public system

A trend of students leaving Mission Public School District to attend independent schools has prompted trustees to explore establishing a similar type of institution.

“In conversations with the community, we’re losing a substantial number of students who are now going to traditional schools,” said board of trustees vice-chair Jim Taylor. “Some parents believe we’re not offering what they want.”

Trustees voted unanimously in favour of organizing a public forum so parents can tell the board what is needed to keep students in the system.

“The forum would be short on information to the public, but lots of ideas from the public,” said Taylor.

Trustee Randy Cairns approved of the forum plan, and said that despite a “valiant effort” made at Durieu Elementary School — which was briefly a traditional school and closed in 2011 due to declining enrolment — some parents “just found it easier to go over to Abbotsford.”

Statistics released at that same meeting reflect trustees’ concerns.

There are more elementary students, but fewer secondary students in Mission schools this year, said co-acting superintendent Randy Huth when he gave school trustees the rundown. There is a 37-student uptick in headcount across Mission Public Schools at the elementary level compared to enrolment projections done in May 2012. At secondary (Grade 7-12), there are 86 fewer students roaming the halls.

Huth noted 172 students (including Summit Learning Centre) have withdrawn from the local school district. The majority, 105, moved out of province, but 42 migrated to an independent school. A lower number was seen at the secondary level, with 141 total withdrawals, and 86 moving to another province, with eight now attending an independent school.