Public Meeting Regarding the Possible 2020-21 Closure of Eldorado School
The Wild Rose School Division Board of Trustees would like to announce a public meeting to be held on November 4, 2019 at the Eldorado Elementary School gymnasium at 7:00pm. The purpose of this meeting is to get community feedback on the possible closure of Eldorado School during the 2020-21 school year. This closure would coincide with the completed construction of the new elementary school that is being built to replace the old Evergreen Elementary School and that is scheduled to open in January 2021. The Board would be closing one school due to the opening of a new school. The Board will be making a decision regarding the closure of Eldorado School at their December 17, 2019 board meeting. However, prior to making this important decision, the Board would like to receive community input.
Below are some questions and answers that provide additional background information:
- How would the closure of Eldorado School affect the attendance area defined for that school?
WRSD currently has 2 elementary schools in Drayton Valley with open attendance areas: Aurora Elementary and Eldorado Elementary. If Eldorado School is closed after the new replacement school opens, we would continue to have 2 elementary schools in Drayton Valley: Aurora Elementary and the new replacement elementary school that is scheduled to open in January 2021. As such, the attendance area would not be impacted.
- How would the closure of Eldorado School affect the attendance at other WRSD schools in Drayton Valley?
It is likely that the attendance at Aurora Elementary would increase, changing from 73% utilized to 88%. However, most, if not all of the Eldorado School students, would fit into the new replacement school. This will depend on our 2020-21 enrollment. Our remaining schools in Drayton Valley would not be impacted. Drayton Christian School would continue to operate in their current building. The grade configurations of H.W. Pickup and Frank Maddock High School would be unchanged.
- How many students would need to be relocated as a result of closing Eldorado School?
The entire student population at Eldorado School would be relocated. The Eldorado School 2019-20 student enrollment is 276 students. It is, however, projected to be a bit lower for the start of the 2020-21 school year.
- How would busing be impacted as a result of closing Eldorado School?
Busing from out of town would be unchanged. However, the overall amount of busing inside of Drayton Valley would be reduced. Currently all of our K-4 bus students are bused to the bus hub. From the bus hub these students get on transfer buses to either Aurora Elementary or Eldorado Elementary. Since the replacement school is being built right across the street from the bus hub, this means that the bus students attending the new replacement school would not need to get on a second transfer bus. Only the Aurora Elementary students would continue to take a transfer bus to and from the bus hub.
- Are there any program implications for other schools and their students?
There would be no program implications for any of the other schools or any other students.
- What are the educational and financial impacts of this decision?
Keeping Eldorado Elementary School open after the new replacement school opens will increase our energy, custodial and maintenance costs. This is especially true considering Eldorado School is the oldest school we have in Drayton Valley and will be in need of modernization if we were to continue with its use. Opening a new school without closing another school would decrease our overall school utilization rates. This is something the Alberta government watches very closely. Having low utilization rates is costly to our maintenance budget and could prevent us from receiving further modernization approvals for some of our other schools like Frank Maddock High School. Educationally, not closing Eldorado School results in further fragmentation of our elementary students into smaller numbers at each grade. This tends to result in more split grade classrooms and less opportunities for same-grade teacher collaboration within the same school.
- Will there be any capital needs of the school that may have increased enrollment as a result of closing Eldorado School?
No. It is projected that Aurora Elementary School is the only school that would see an increase in student enrollment. However, the increase would not result in any capital expenses.
- What is the proposed use of the school building if Eldorado School is closed?
The long term plan would be to demolish the space currently being used by Eldorado School. However, until our capital plan regarding the future of H.W. Pickup School has been determined, we would begin by decanting the space rather than demolishing. Leaving this space unused is projected to save the division $55,000 per year in operational costs. Once we demolish that portion of the building, it will save the division even more.
- The time, date, and place of the public meeting.
The meeting will be held in the gymnasium at Eldorado Elementary School on Nov 4, 2019 starting at 7:00pm. We look forward to discussing this matter in greater detail with the community and receiving community input into this important decision.
At this same meeting we will also be discussing and seeking input regarding our future capital plan for our all Drayton Valley schools given the ongoing and very expensive structural issues at H.W. Pickup School. We need to talk about what we should do in terms of schools and grade configurations if we end up needing to close H.W. Pickup School (sooner than later) due to its structural issues.
We look forward to community feedback on these two important topics.