Changes to middle school?

Mission school board asks if parents and students are satisfied with current model

After three years of running a middle school program in every local high school, the Mission school board is now asking if the current model should continue, or if the Grade 7-9 students should be educated in a separate facility for their grades only.

Details of how the board plans to reach parents and students and if forums should be set up will be discussed in further detail next week.

Trustee Jim Taylor says he has continually heard people do not enjoy a Grade 7 to 12 school. He has even received a letter of concern from a Grade 11 student.

If responders are not satisfied with the status quo, Mission Public Schools will look into creating two middle schools and one high school.

While parents may not like the idea of a Grade 7 student attending the same school as someone in Grade 12, Taylor says he has other concerns as well, such as costs and program selection.

He pointed out students in a larger setting may get access to more courses, which would give them an advantage when they move on to post secondary.

Students could also access more extra-curricular activities too, said trustee Randy Cairns, who noted currently a student attending one school cannot play on a sports team in another school even if the home school doesn’t offer the program.

“If this is passed, there will be a lot of discussion,” said board chair Edie Heinrichs. “But it’s premature now.”

Educators and parents at the school board meeting Tuesday night (Sept. 17) also encouraged trustees to pose more than a philosophical question; they wanted to see some details, such as what a system with two middle schools would look like and what the curriculum could look like.

Ray Velestuk, who used to serve as the secretary-treasurer for the Mission school district, predicted there would be significant financial benefits to reconfiguring and consolidating the schools.