School trustees voted Tuesday night to start the process to contemplate closing Dewdney Elementary School by the end of June.
School board chair Edie Heinrichs said the timeline is short — previous school closure processes took a number of months — but it is being considered because members of the Dewdney and Deroche school community approached the board with the idea to close.
However, parents and teachers in the audience refuted that statement. When queried as to who had said this, superintendent Bill Fletcher replied that it was a few members of the community, but would not elaborate further.
“When the proposal came I was not happy with it, and was surprised by it,” said vice-chair Jim Taylor, adding that “my mind is not made up by any means.”
A commitment had been made by trustees to the Ministry of Education that come September, a school closure process would be explored, and that not just rural schools were being examined.
According to a report in the agenda, the primary reason Dewdney was chosen was “due to the continuing decline in enrolment in the eastern part of the school district.”
As well, the school is underused. Dewdney has a 195-student capacity, and enrolment numbers for next year show about 80 students will attend, with further declines projected over the next decade.
The report also stated that, “The closure of Dewdney Elementary will also benefit the delivery of education programs at Deroche Elementary which is also experiencing declining enrolment.”
Other factors to be considered by Mission Public Schools’ administration staff include geographic location, building condition and economic savings.
Dewdney was on the closure consideration list two years ago. The board of trustees at the time decided to keep it open, but close another rural school, Durieu. A timeline for further meetings with the public and partner groups has not yet been announced.