Woking School to permanently close at the end of the 2020-21 school year

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Peace Wapiti Public School Board Trustees voted unanimously on Thursday to close the Woking School at the end of the 2020-21 school year.

The closure was an emotional decision for some trustees but all agreed it was in the best interest of the students at the K-8 school.

The school’s enrolment had dropped over the past few years, and this year teachers were teaching two grades with the possibility of going to three grades per class in September.

This year there is also only one Grade 8 student at the school.

The motion passed also recommended that all students living east of Highway 2 be bused to Rycroft for school while those west of the north-south highway be bused to Spirit River Regional Academy for classes.

The motion also provided a one-time opportunity for parents living in the eastern portion of the district to apply, in writing to the deputy superintendent, to allow their family to be bused across boundaries to Spirit River.

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“It has been a long process but I believe it has been a thorough one,” Board chair Kari Scheers said. “My decision was based on the best interest of the children, those kids at the school and from the response we got. The feeling was, yeah it is time, there just wasn’t enough kids left in the school to make it an equitable education that they would be receiving.

“That school is amazing. With the amount of kids they have in there, they do some of the most fun things. I see all their posts on Facebook sharing all the great things they do. They have some of the best teachers that we have in the division. That has never been an issue.”

Scheers is also a trustee for the Eaglesham, Woking, Rycroft district.

The board heard input from as many stakeholders and parents as they could.

“We were able to hear from everyone and everyone was able to have their voice heard,” Scheers said. “Now there may be a few that weren’t very happy with the decision but I think in the best interest of the kids, it’s the best decision to make.

“I wish this was a regular year and we could let these children see these schools that they will be potentially be going to, but that probably isn’t going to happen. I just hope parents talk to their kids and encourage them to have open minds that they will be going with their friends to a new school and it’s going to be great. Our top priority is making sure those bus routes are made so that the kids are brought to school not only safely but in a timely manner so they do not have extended ride times on the buses to our best ability.”

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Just prior to the vote, during a round table, discussion Trustee Dana McIntosh said, “My heart goes out to everyone involved. I think that we’ve looked at this from inside out and upside down, and in everything we have considered, it’s always been done through what is best for the students, keeping the students in mind all the time. It’s an incredibly difficult decision, but I think we need to move forward with it.”

Trustee Kim Moodie echoed McIntosh’s comments.

“I just want to say that I am proud of the process that we took in contacting and involving the community and having all the stakeholders have input and consultation,” Moodie said.

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