ARBORFIELD — With a 7 to 1 vote, the North East School Division board of education has decided to discontinue Grades 7-12 at Arborfield School.
The board made the decision on April 25 at their regular board meeting, held in Hudson Bay. Sherri Hanson, the trustee for Arborfield and Carrot River was the lone vote against the motion.
There were approximately 40 people from Arborfield in attendance to hear for themselves the decision from the NESD Board. There were two delegates that spoke: George Schroepfer of Arborfield and Sara Derksen of Zenon Park.
The NESD said in a press release the Arborfield projected number of students from Kindergarten to Grade 6 indicates a K-6 school is viable according to the Board’s School Viability Review Policy. As a result, the Board of Education has decided that Grades 7-12 at Arborfield School will be discontinued effective July 3, 2023, and that Arborfield School will be removed from possible closure status. Going forward, the NESD will begin transition planning with the Arborfield School Community Council to ensure a successful transition to a new Kindergarten to Grade 6 school and to plan for Grade 7 to 12 students to go to Carrot River or Tisdale.
“Throughout the review, the Arborfield Community has demonstrated passion for their community and pride in their own, and their children’s positive Arborfield schooling experience,” board chair Kevin Graham and NESD Director of Education Stacy Lair said in the press release.
Mayor of Arborfield Chet Edwards said he feels that their fight is still not over.
Schroepfer, a local electrician who was one of the speakers at the board meetingb has stated they are preparing a legal injunction on grounds the NESD has not followed proper legal protocols and procedures when it comes to the review process. Derksen said in her statement to the board that the review process is flawed and stressed the lines of communication were non-existent in her opinion.
At the time of publication, no injunction or legal papers have been delivered to the NESD.
The NESD statement said that maintaining Arborfield School past its life expectancy carries a risk for the Board, with a likelihood of emergent maintenance needs. Across the division, the Board is aware of current cost projections exceeding $10 million for the 2023–27 preventative maintenance and renewal proposed projects, excluding costs for Arborfield School. With limited funding, the board has a duty to consider a standard for learning environments across the division and the impact to that standard should Arborfield School remain open.
“The Board understands and wants the Arborfield community to understand that with current funding, enhancements to the Arborfield School that would significantly prolong the structure’s life cycle will not be possible,” said the rerelease.
A joint statement made by the RM of Arborfield No. 456 and the Town of Arborfield on April 28 said their councils are both working together to ensure the Arborfield School remains viable for future generations.
A similar decision was made by a different NESD board for Gronlid Central School. In the 2017-18 school year, the school went from a Kindergarten to Grade 12 to Kindergarten to Grade 8. Due to declining enrolments, the school closed down after 2021-22 school year.