School closure would be significant

The proposed closure of Giant’s Head school has much farther reaching implications than losing a thriving neighbourhood school.

Dear Editor:

Whether you are already aware of it or not, the proposed closure of Giant’s Head school has much farther reaching implications than losing a thriving neighbourhood school.

I admit that when I heard the idea of the proposed closure of Giant’s Head School, I thought only of my own sadness at the possible loss of my children’s neighbourhood school.

I thought of the proximity to a wetland and Dale Meadows field, which lies adjacent to the playground that my children and their teachers use as part of their outdoor learning opportunities, I thought of the new playground structure my kids spend their recess on, and I thought of the sense of community I feel every morning walking my kids to school and visiting with other moms, dads, and grandparents all doing the same.

My sadness changed to confusion as I realized the school board would consider closing a school that is full of students.

Giant’s Head is full. It is not a neighbourhood school struggling for numbers.

I also felt disbelief as I saw the projections of building quality and need for repairs. Giant’s Head is ranked fourth best in quality.

Why would anyone propose to close it?

To relocate 300 young students, uprooting them from a thriving neighbourhood school, seems unwise.

However after attending a Community Think Tank last week at the SMS library my concerns only deepened and this concern was becoming shared by many Summerland families as it became clear that the closing of Giant’s Head school will result in the reconfiguration of all the schools in Summerland.

Summerland would no longer offer the Middle School Model.

We would have two K-7 Elementary schools. This would mean two buildings (Trout Creek and Summerland Middle School, now a possible elementary school) being full to capacity right off the bat.

Every square inch of building space would hold classrooms.

It is reasonable to assume with the number of classroom space needed programs that Middle Schools are currently able to offer such as Woodshop, Band and Home Economics would in all likelihood be scrapped.

That would mean limiting the educational opportunities Summerland could provide students in comparison with Penticton.

The effect broadens.

When conversing with members of Council new concerns arose. Safety namely. How can we expect the population of Giants Head school children, most of whom walk/bike to school to navigate the downtown area on their journey to school?

Summerland just spend hundreds of thousands of tax dollars to ensure student safety on Prairie Valley Road by installing sidewalks and crosswalks for students.

Another issue the municipality would face would be in regard to its Growth plan. How can we grow and expand as a municipality when the projected numbers show the proposed two K-7 schools will begin to operate already full to capacity?

Would families considering moving to Summerland purchase a home in a town that couldn’t accommodate their children in the early years?

The board has put forth a proposal for Summerland Schools that does not work. Period. It has far too many broad reaching ripple effects. It is not a matter of simply relocating a few hundred kids. It affects all the students in Summerland.

Please come out Thursday evening at 7 p.m. to Giant’s Head School to voice your concerns and hear more about the prosed changes to our community schools.

Jennifer Martin