15: School Closures
The Board recognizes that it may have to consider closure of a school, or three consecutive grades in a school, when the operation of the school is no longer viable.
Demographic and utilization studies may be completed for all schools and are intended to be updated periodically as deemed necessary. Such studies will review the impact of population shifts, building capacity, maintenance costs and transportation on individual schools.
The Superintendent shall annually recommend to the Board individual schools which appear justified for a viability study. The Board may also request a viability study on individual schools at any time.
This Policy is intended to provide a process relating to a permanent school closure that provides for:
1. adequate opportunity for the public to respond to the board’s proposal to permanently close a school;
2. a process by which the board shall fairly consider these responses;
3. consideration of future growth or decline in student enrolment, and
4. consideration of possible alternative educational or community uses for all or part of the school building.
1. A school shall be considered for a viability study if any of the following conditions apply:
1.1. The school building is inadequate by virtue of age, condition, size of site, or other overriding limitations and cannot reasonably and economically be renovated to currently accepted educational standards.
1.2. The student occupancy rate of the school has fallen substantially under capacity and is projected to remain so.
1.3. The school's site-based budget can no longer feasibly support the financial viability of the operation of the school.
1.4. Unusual circumstances exist that require alternative use of a particular location or building.
2. A viability study shall include the following factors:
2.1. Consultation with those communities considered in the study;
2.2. Review of the in-depth demographic studies and consideration of alternatives;
2.3. Age and current physical condition of the building and program facilities.
2.4. Adequacy of site, location, access, surrounding development, traffic patterns, andother environmental conditions;
2.5. Reassignment of students, including alternative plans;
2.6. Transportation factors, including numbers of students bussed, time, distance, and safety;
2.7. Alternate uses of the building; and
2.8. Costs/savings, related to the following
2.8.2. Plant operation,
2.8.4. Capital investment, and
2.8.5. Alternate use Process The Board establishes the following process with respect to the closing of schools:
3. The Superintendent shall annually recommend to the Board individual schools that appear justified for a viability study. The Board may also request a viability study on individual schools at any time.
4. If the Board accepts the recommendation, a viability study shall be initiated by administration.
5. At a regular meeting of the Board, upon receiving a viability study with a recommendation to close a school from the Superintendent and where the Board accepts the recommendation, a notice of motion shall be served at the Board meeting, proposing that a specific school or schools be closed.
6. Immediately following notice of motion, the Superintendent or designate shall send a letter to the parent of every student enrolled in the school who may be affected be this action informing them of the fact and implications of the notice of motion.
7. Such communication shall address questions relating to how a specific closure would affect the following:
7.1. The attendance area defined for that school;
7.2. The attendance at other schools by students re-located by virtue of school closure;
7.3. Information on the Board’s long range capital plan;
7.4. The need for, and extent of, busing;
7.5. Program implications for the students when they are attending other schools;
7.6. Program implications for other schools;
7.7. The educational and financial impact of closing the school, including the effect on operational costs and the capital implications;
7.8. The financial and educational impact of not closing the school;
7.9. The capital needs of other schools that may have increased enrolment.
7.10. The date, time and location of a public meeting referred to in 9.; Such communication shall also include a statement as to the proposed disposal of the closed school (e.g., mothballing, lease to community organization, lease to government agency,sale, or demolition).
8. Communication shall also be sent to any other person, municipality or community organization who, in the opinion of the Board, may be significantly affected by the intent to close a school.
9. A public meeting shall be organized and convened by the Board, in the school, for the purposeof discussing the proposed closure, its implications for students and for the system.
10. The date and place of the public meeting shall be:
10.1. Posted in five (5) conspicuous places within the school(s) affected by the closure, for a period of at least fourteen (14) days before the date of the public meeting,and
10.2. Advertised in a newspaper circulating within the area(s) of the school(s) affected by the proposed closure if possible.
10.3. Posted on the school(s) and Division’s website.
10.4. Posted by other means of notice as the Board deems prudent to utilize.
11. A quorum of trustees is to be in attendance at this public meeting.
12. The Board shall ensure that minutes of all public meetings held under this section 9 are prepared.
13. The council of the municipality in which the school is located shall be provided an opportunity to provide a statement to the Board of the impact the closure may have on the community.
14. Concerned electors shall be allowed a minimum of three (3) weeks to prepare a response, including preferred alternatives (or responses) arising from the public meeting under section 9.
15. Concerned electors shall be given an opportunity to present their response to the Board to comment upon the response and the notice of motion, and to answer questions.
16. The debate and the vote upon the school closure must take place only after the above minimum criteria have been met and within the following timelines:
16.1. Minimum of four (4) weeks after the date of the public meeting under section 9;
16.2. Maximum of twelve (12) weeks after the public meeting under section 9.
17. In the event that the motion is passed, the Superintendent shall advise the Minister of Education of the Board’s decision.