Traditional school idea still possible: trustee

Trustees will be meeting with parents to see how the plan could move forward

Some version of a traditional school may still happen in Mission school district, according to one trustee, even though registration numbers fell short.

At the April 1 deadline to pre-register for the proposed new program of choice, only five new students were signed up; 75 were needed. However, 80 registrations from children already enrolled in the district were also received.

The final tally didn’t surprise board vice-chair Jim Taylor.

“What’s holding it back is the unwillingness of parents to uproot their children” from other similar-type schools in communities like Abbotsford where it was difficult to get a spot.

“And I totally understand that,” he said.

But there are other options, he added.

“The significant number is the kindergarten for 2014,” he said. A total of 42 children are pre-registered for next year, and providing a temporary solution can be found to launch the program this September, Taylor is hopeful.

The board plans to meet with parents soon and ask what they might be prepared to sacrifice to see a traditional program go ahead, including split-grade classes, and initially only running a kindergarten to Grade 3 program.

Additionally, Taylor said claiming a section of a current school for the “first year or two” could also be contemplated.

There has been a high level of interest in the traditional school idea since the idea was floated about two months ago. A pair of public forums were held to explain the concept, and from those, a cadre of enthusiastic parents formed to help promote the concept and entice others to pre-register their children.

The school district wanted to start with a kindergarten to Grade 4 model which would allow the program to grow as the initial registrants age. To make it a K-Grade 7 program to start, 100 new students were needed.

Hundreds of students are leaving Mission daily to attend other schools, and take with them each about $7,500 in provincial funding.

“They are leaving because, presumably, they’re going there to get something that they’re not getting here,” said principal Brian Tucker at a Feb. 27 public forum. Tucker sat on a committee that was struck to plan for the traditional program.

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