School Board Votes For Closure
There will be one less school in Parkland School Division after the April 8, 2015 meeting at which members of the Parkland School Division Board of Trustees voted in favour of permanently closing Keephills School, effective June 30, 2015. Students currently attending Keephills School will be designated to attend Duffield School, which is 8 kilometres away in Parkland County's west end.
The closure discussions on Keephills School began as a result of ongoing low enrolment in the Parkland County west end school and the school division's growing concern that the current high quality of educational programming cannot be maintained into the future.
In the last 5 years, Parkland School Division has spent an additional $591,224 to keep Keephills School open and living up to the high expectations and quality education that's been delivered by a dedicated staff. This half a million dollars has been taken from the Division's Operating Reserves. The recently announced 2015-16 Provincial Budget states that school boards will require approval from the Minister in order to access their accumulated Operating Reserves.
Also, up to this point, school divisions have been funded on a per pupil grant. The new budget caps that per pupil grant at 2014-15 enrolment numbers. Parkland School Division is anticipating 400 new students next year with no funding to support this growth which could equate to $2 million dollars. In addition to that, the Division will be required to find efficiencies and productivity improvements that will reduce non-classroom teaching costs by 2.7% which could equate to another $2 million dollar shortfall.
Enrolment issues and discussions on the viability of Keephills School have dated back to as early as 2001.
"This was not an easy decision that anyone on the Board made lightly," says Board Chair Eric Cameron. "Closure of a school would never be our first choice. We recognize that the impact of decisions such as these has on the students and the community and we've looked at many alternatives over the past years to keep our smallest schools viable."
"Our four Divisional priorities were front and centre throughout this process, including the opportunity to engage our community. We took great strides to reach out to and analyze valuable input from the Keephills and Duffield communities and we thank them for their contribution to the process. But at the heart of the matter and the rationale behind the decision comes back to Parkland School Division's Ultimate Goal of Student Success and Well-being for all 10 thousand plus students we’re committed to delivering the best possible education."
For more information contact:
Superintendent of Schools
Parkland School Division