Superintendent recommends closing both Ecole Davis Road and North Oyster elementary schools

At tonight's school board meeting in Ladysmith, senior staff recommends closing two elementary schools and moving Grade 7s to high school.

The agenda and supporting documents for tonight’s School District 68 board of education meeting came out yesterday, and they reveal that senior staff is recommending the closure of both École Davis Road and North Oyster elementary schools in the next two years, while also moving forward with the controversial proposal to move Grade 7 students to secondary school.

In his report to the board, superintendent Dave Hutchinson rejects the options presented by the Ladysmith Extended Consultation Working Group and recommends a modification to the original proposal for the Ladysmith zone, which had been submitted in April.

Hutchinson’s report recommends the following actions:

• Close École Davis Road (EDR) in June 2014 and consolidate the English and French programs as follows: the  K-6 French Immersion program with Ladysmith Intermediate; the EDR English program grades 4-6 students with Ladysmith Intermediate; and the K-3 EDR English program students with Ladysmith Primary.

Transportation will be provided as per Board Transportation Procedure 4400. The district will also apply Board Procedure 4011, The Disposition of Property, with respect to exploring the potential future use of the site.

• Grade 7 students from EDR and Ladysmith Intermediate will move to Ladysmith Secondary in fall 2014 (already approved by the Board). Transportation will be provided as per Board Transportation Procedure 4400.

• The district will undertake a feasibility study with respect to the addition of a Grade 8 French Immersion program at Ladysmith Secondary.

• Close North Oyster Elementary in June 2015. This coincides with the opening of the newly renovated Cedar Elementary School in the fall of 2015, which may be a school of choice for North Oyster families. Provide an opportunity for further consultation around school choice and possible catchment area revisions with the North Oyster community in the fall of 2014. The district will apply Board Procedure 4011, The Disposition of Property, with respect to exploring the potential future use of the site.

• 2015-2016 School Year: undertake a feasibility study with respect to elementary school renovations and/or rebuilds in the Ladysmith zone. The senior team will work closely with the Ministry in support of this goal.

In his report, Hutchinson notes that this proposal would leave Ladysmith Intermediate with an enrollment of 324 and Ladysmith Primary with an enrollment of 273. With capacities of 300 for Ladysmith Intermediate and 185 for Ladysmith Primary, this will necessitate the addition of one portable at the intermediate school and three portables at the primary school.

Hutchinson says that although the number of portables required for Ladysmith Primary is “not ideal,” the following needs to be kept in mind:

• The majority of Ladysmith’s K-6 student population lives in the primary and intermediate school catchment areas. Given our enrolment projections, this will continue to be the case for the foreseeable future;

• The increased enrollment supports the district’s goal of strengthening the equitable delivery of learning programs and services to every student; and

• The French Immersion program remains in Ladysmith, and will be supported by a district plan to enhance French immersion programs currently under development by an internal design team.

Hutchinson will present his report to the school board tonight (Wednesday, Dec. 18) during a public board meeting at Ladysmith Secondary School, starting at 6 p.m.

Also on the agenda for tonight’s meetings are the reading of bylaws to close EDR and North Oyster Elementary.

The agenda for tonight’s meeting can be found online here, while Hutchinson’s report can be found here.