Although three schools in the South East Cornerstone School Division could have been subjected to a review process this year, none will be.
A review puts a school on notice that it can be subject to a motion for closure the following year. The trustees from Cornerstone however, have given a clear indication to the schools in Macoun, Wapella and Pangman that they see no compelling reason to put them under any intense scrutiny.
"We reviewed the situation at each of these schools at a special board meeting a couple of weeks ago and decided we didn't need to get into a review process," said Estevan trustee Pam Currie when contacted by The Mercury.
A decision regarding reviews had to be made by October 15 in compliance with Ministry of Education regulations. The advance warning process then provides schools and communities ample time to launch appeals and design action plans if they want to save their school.
In the case of the three Cornerstone schools that didn't quite meet the minimum guidelines set out by the Ministry of Education, there was enough evidence of continued growth or stability to convince the local trustees that it would serve no useful purpose to subject them to the review process.
Another school in the division continues to cause a bit of angst among the trustees and community however, and that is Lyndale in Oungre.
As a designated school of necessity, due to its geographic location, Lyndale is not subject to closure, even though its student population is well below the expected guidelines for a kindergarten to Grade 9 facility. The ministry guidelines suggest that a school with that number of classes and programming should have a minimum enrolment of 58. Lyndale currently has 17 or 18 students and just two teachers on staff.
As a result of this unique situation, the school's community council will be making a presentation to the Cornerstone board of trustees on October 21 during their regular business session. It is expected they will be there to discuss options that might be pursued to provide effective education opportunities in a challenging environment.
Wapella, which is also a kindergarten to Grade 9 school, has 53 students, which is just slightly under the provincial guidelines. But there is a sign of stability there that prompted the Cornerstone trustees to keep it off the review books.
At Macoun School, there is a kindergarten to Grade 8 program, which the ministry guidelines suggest should have a minimum of 51 students.
There were 36 students enrolled in Macoun last academic year and now there are 44 in this year's program. With a sign of continued growth, the Cornerstone trustees felt there was no need to review this school either.
At Pangman, which offers a kindergarten to Grade 12 program, the minimum requirement is suggested to be 88 students. Pangman had 66 students last year and have 67 registered this year, so once again the promise of continued growth prompted the trustees to say no to a review in 2010-11.
"There are the ministry guidelines, but that's just what they are guidelines. So far the provincial government isn't demanding that we put any schools under review that don't meet the minimum; they just set out the guides and leave it up to us to determine whether we feel we need to do a review of not," said Currie.
Overall this year, Cornerstone division enjoyed a total enrolment increase of over 150 students, leaving the system with slightly more than 8,000 students in 38 school facilities.