WRSD Board of Trustees Decides to Close Evergreen Elementary

March 21

On March 21, 2017 the WRSD Board of Trustees passed a motion about Evergreen Elementary School. They decided to close Evergreen Elementary for the 2017-2018 school year until structural issues at the school have been resolved. In order to resolve these structural issues, Alberta Education has made the decision to modernize Evergreen Elementary. The estimated time needed from start to finish will most likely be a three-year process.

After discussing various options. The Board decided the best choice is to move all students out of Evergreen School starting in the 2017-2018 school year. This means we will be vacating the school for the entire three-year process.

The main reasons for moving all of the students are as follows:

  • Although the usable sections of the school have been deemed 100 percent safe at this time. It is difficult to know how much this may change over the course of next school year, especially if Drayton Valley experiences another wet summer.
  • In the event that more classrooms became unusable during 2017-2018.  All of the students would have to move part way through the 2017-2018 school year. Moving all students and staff in the middle of a school year would be far more complex and disruptive compared to doing so at the start of a school year. Especially when such a move would impact the grade configurations at most of the other schools in Drayton Valley.
  • The Evergreen School staff have indicated a preference for vacating the entire school starting the 2017-2018 school year.
  • Combined with the reasons above and since we will have to move all the students for years two and three of the project. It made sense to vacate the entire school starting the 2017-2018 school year.

“Weighing all of the options was a tough process but throughout we kept what was best for all of our students at the forefront,” stated Chair, Russ Hickman. “I know that we are moving forward into some new ground but I am confident this option provides the most stability for Drayton Valley over the next three years.”

In order to maximize the space available in our other schools, the following grade configuration changes will need to take place starting the 2017-2018 school year through to the end of this project:

  • Aurora will become a Kindergarten to Grade 4 school
  • Eldorado will become a Kindergarten to Grade 4 school
  • H.W. Pickup will change from a Junior High School to a Middle School hosting Grade 5 through 8 ((This will include moving the new Evergreen School portables to H.W. Pickup School. H.W. Pickup was built to be easily expanded through the addition of portables and as such is the most timely and efficient choice for receiving these portables)
  • Frank Maddock High School will host Grades 9 through 12
  • Drayton Christian School will continue to operate as a Kindergarten to Grade 9 school

“Changing to these grade reconfigurations allows us to maintain the best balance of school culture while using the maximum amount of school space,” stated Superintendent, Brad Volkman. “The culture of our schools is founded in our staff, parents and community members and I know that we can all work together to ensure student success.”

With Evergreen Elementary School being closed next year, Evergreen parents with children in grades K - 4 next year, will be asked to fill out a form, ranking their preference of Elementary School for next year between the remaining three elementary schools: Aurora, Eldorado and Drayton Christian. They will need to return this form to the office at Evergreen by Friday, April 7, 2017 or sooner (forms will be numbered as they come in). The schools will then get together to determine student placement. Registrations after this date will be placed according to availability. Students in grades 5-8 from Evergreen, Eldorado and Aurora will automatically be registered at H.W. Pickup, unless they have chosen to register at Drayton Christian School.

These grade configurations, although new to Drayton Valley, are common throughout Alberta. Even within WRSD, we have various grade configurations including K-5, 6-8, 9-12, K-9, K-7, 8-12 and K-12. As such, the concerns of our Drayton Valley parents and students regarding these new grade configurations will be considered and addressed. Staff from all of the schools will be moving into these newly configured schools and will serve as a constant for our students and parents during this time of change.

This decision has the possibility to make our schools more crowded over the next three years but regardless this will be temporary. Our Board is committed to holding community consultations regarding what the grade configurations should look like in Drayton Valley once Evergreen School is reopened. We value parent input and as such will hold these consultations during the third and final year of this project. The reason we did not seek parent input regarding the grade configurations that will be used over the next three years of this project, was due to time constraints and because of limited options based on the space available with one full school out of commission. It is a challenging thing to lose one full building and still find available space for all students. The configurations listed above resulted in maximizing the space available.

Bussing will also be impacted by these new configurations. The Board has decided to continue to use the Evergreen Bus Hub for a period of three years. However, with the additional students requiring a shuttle, we may need to combine shuttles which would possibly increase ride times.

Most important, we know it is the students, staff and parents that have the greatest impact on the effectiveness and culture of a school. Although the grade configurations some of our students will experience over the next three years will be a bit different. Our students, staff and parents will be the same and with their support will make our schools' great places to work and learn.The WRSD Board of Trustees and administration thank each of you in advance for your patience and understanding during this time. As always, our primary goal is to ensure the safety of our students and staff and to improve the life chances of all students.

A town hall meeting for everyone in the community will be held on April 5 at 7:00 pm at Evergreen School. This meeting will provide the public with an opportunity to ask questions and for administration to provide further details.

Leave a comment:

Suzaan Botes said on March 21, 2017

Thanks you for the board who listened to all our questions at the meeting and for answering them patiently. I would like to ask, if at all possible, that you would look into providing French at the new Middle School. That was the biggest reason for us choosing Aurora School and my son would have had two more years of this great educational opportunity was he able to stay there. I also want to suggest perhaps speaking to the Rotary Club about using the Rotary House as an Emergency Shelter in the rare cases that these emergencies may arise. They are extremely community orientated and I trust that they would be more than willing to help the children. With appreciation, Suzaan Botes (parent of a Gr.4 student at Aurora)

Pat Cropley said on March 21, 2017

Why is Drayton Christian School not being affected!

Wild Rose School Division said on March 22, 2017

Drayton Christian School is our only school in Drayton Valley that offers an alternative Christian program from K-9. Although the grade levels offered at DCS will remain the same, they will be impacted like all other Drayton Valley Schools in terms of contributing additional classroom space for students being displaced from Evergreen School