Parents urge school district to keep middle school model

A group of Summerland parents want the Okanagan Skaha School District to keep a middle school operating in Summerland.

A group of Summerland parents want the Okanagan Skaha School District to keep a middle school operating in Summerland.

Tina Martin, who organized Support Summerland Schools with two other parents, said a proposed school closure would leave Summerland without a middle school.

The suggestion under consideration calls for the closure of Giant’s Head Elementary School, even though that school is at capacity.

Students from the elementary school would then be transferred to the Summerland Middle School building, which would be converted for use as an elementary school for students from Kindergarten to Grade 7, while Summerland Secondary School would house students from Grade 8 to Grade 12.

At present, Summerland’s elementary schools accommodate students from Kindergarten to Grade 5, while students from Grade 6 to Grade 8 attend Summerland Middle School. Students from Grade 9 to Grade 12 are at Summerland Secondary School.

Last week, around 30 people attended a meeting about the future of the Summerland schools.

Martin said the loss of a middle school would have serious consequences for the community.

“Our kids will miss out educationally and socially,” she said. “The middle school model is specialized and focussed on students between the ages of 10 to 13.”

During the years from Grade 6 to Grade 8, students undergo a growth spurt and go through changes in their social development.

Martin added that the middle school building would not adequately meet the needs of elementary students.

She said within two to three years, the building would be at capacity.

In addition, changes would be needed at the elementary school in order to accommodate younger students. These changes include retrofits to the building, changes to the washrooms and removing the stage, drama classroom and home economics classroom.

On Dec. 3 at 7 p.m., the school board will host a meeting at Giant’s Head Elementary School.

Martin hopes members of the public will attend and raise their concerns at that meeting.

“We would really like to fill the gym and speak to the issues at hand,” she said.