Participants consider declining school enrolment and the future of Giant’s Head School at a public meeting on Nov. 12.

School options discussed

Members of the public raised their concerns about the future of Giant’s Head School during a public meeting on Nov. 12.

Members of the public raised their concerns about the future of Giant’s Head School during a public meeting on Nov. 12.

The meeting, at the gym of the elementary school, drew an estimated 120 people to consider nine options in response to declining enrolment.

Seven of the options were outlined in a report from the Okanagan Skaha School District in late October. Two more were raised at a closed board meeting on Nov. 9.

Linda Van Alphen, chair of the school board, said there were many suggestions and comments offered during the evening session.

Of the nine suggestions, one involves shutting down Giant’s Head School and transferring the students to Summerland Middle School, which would then house Kindergarten to Grade 7 students. Students from Grades 8 to 12 would attend Summerland Secondary School.

While this option has raised strongest concerns within Summerland, Van Alphen said all options under consideration would have an impact on students throughout the region.

“No matter what we do, it’s going to affect every child in the district,” she said.

Other options for consideration involve closing and reconfiguring various schools within Penticton.

However, a decision to close schools in Penticton does not necessarily mean Summerland’s schools would remain untouched.

The closures are being discussed because of declining enrolment. At present, there are 5,661 students throughout the school district and school enrolment is 25 per cent below capacity.

Van Alphen said the school board and school district staff will consider the comments before making a decision on the future of schools within the district.

“I am committed to this process,” she said. “At the very end, a decision will be made.”

Meetings will continue until Dec. 10 and comments will be accepted until Jan. 10.

A decision will be made in late January.

The next public meeting on dealing with declining enrolment will be held at Queen’s Park School in Penticton on Nov. 19 at 7 p.m.