As the Jewett PAC President, I am informing the residents of the Lardeau Valley that the 3rd annual Facilities Plan Update Meeting for the Kaslo Family of Schools is taking place on Monday, February 4th @ 6:00pm @ JVH. I encourage residents to come out to the meeting to hear what the current plans are for Jewett Elementary.
I am sure most of you remember that in 2016, the district was considering closing Jewett. Our school was saved at the eleventh hour by the Liberal government’s REEF fund. For those of you that did not attend that last meeting in 2016 or the annual meetings in 2017 and 2018, I feel you should know that our school is not safe. There were 3 caveats to keeping Jewett open:
1) Jewett will remain open as long as the REEF funding is in place;
2) Jewett will remain open as long as the REEF funding is separate from other Ministry of Education funding; and
3) Jewett will remain open as long as the school’s capacity utilization does not adversely affect the district’s capacity utilization as a whole.
Caveat #3 is the one we need to worry about. Currently, there are 5 kids enrolled at Jewett. I believe the projected enrollment for the 2019/2020 year is 5 kids (we have one student graduating grade 5 in June and one student entering kindergarten in September). I heard a rumour that Jewett is back on the chopping block due to low enrollment. I tried to confirm this rumour with our Trustee, Dawn Lang; however, she did not confirm or deny the validity of the rumour, simply stating that Jewett receives REEF funding. I find it a little disconcerting that our own trustee doesn’t seem to know the caveats surrounding Jewett’s existence.
At last year’s annual update meeting, the presentation included a brief summation of Jewett’s projected enrollment. I flat out asked the school board what the magic number of kids was to keep the school open. We were told at that time that there was no magic number because it changes every year depending on enrollment throughout the rest of the district. A couple of months ago, I found out from someone who talked to Lenora Trenaman, chairperson of the school board, that the magic number for Jewett is 8 kids. I was outraged when I heard that given I was told there was no magic number.
Once again, I encourage as many people as possible to attend the meeting on Monday, February 4th. If the district decides to close Jewett for the upcoming school year, we will find out by April 30th.