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Viability review to continue for Bjorkdale School

No final decision made
Bjorkdale School
The North East School Division voted Jan. 24 to continue a review that will examine the future viability of Bjorkdale School. Review Photo/Devan C. Tasa

A review examining the future viability of Bjorkdale School will continue.

No decision as to the ultimate fate of the school, whether the status quo remains, grades are removed or the school closes, has been made.

“The community expects us,” said Luke Perkins, the chair of the division, after a board meeting Jan. 23. “to [apply as much] due diligence as we can. That’s what they expect from us. We want to ensure that no questions [remain]. We want to know exactly where we stand at the end of the day.”

Mark Van Haastert co-chaired a community-based viability review committee with Joanne Kehrig that presented a report to the school board Jan. 17 that argued the school should remain open.

“We’re disappointed that they didn’t take us off the review, but we are moving forward with a positive attitude, wanting to continue to work with the school board to keep our school.”

Perkins said the board was impressed with the review committee’s work.

Don Rempel, the division’s director of education, said his organization will start communicating with parents about what the options are for receiving schools, meet with the school community council and staff, and hold an a meeting of electors before the end of March if that’s deemed necessary.

“The school review committee’s done their part: consulted the community and presented some information to the board,” he said. “The board has criteria that it needs to consider as well as the interests of the students of Bjorkdale and all of the students in the North East School Division, so they’re going to continue in a process here that will take us through [provincial] budget day.”

The criteria the division will consider include the number of teachers teaching more than one grade, the number of students of each grade, the distances to the next nearest centres and the amount of staff required to operate the school.

Other factors that could affect the division’s decision are the amount of dollars it receives in the provincial budget and the final decision as to the future of the province’s school divisions.

Despite the review continuing, Van Haastert was optimistic for the future, saying the feedback from the board was positive and the review committee was willing to explore options to make the school more viable.

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