Working group formed to examine options for Wheatland East schools | DrumhellerMail
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Last updateFri, 14 Jun 2024 6pm

Working group formed to examine options for Wheatland East schools

    Golden Hills School Division has formed a working group representing the communities in East Wheatland to investigate options and solutions for area schooling.
     For a number of years schools in the communities of Hussar, Standard, Rockyford and Gleichen have been facing falling enrolments and aging infrastructure. A group of 17, comprised of Golden Hills board chair David Price and four representatives from each community will look at the information and the viability of possible solutions. The working group will not be charged with making a final decision on the future of the schools in the area.
    This is not the first time the issue has been looked at. In 2006, a stakeholder group was formed to look at solutions, facilitated by Simera Strategy Group. In  2009, the board’s capital priorities included a new centrally located school in East Wheatland.
    “There have been some changes in our school environment since then… and I think we are looking at this differently,” said Bevan Daverne, superintendent of Golden Hills School Division. “This working group, their mandate is to help our division as a kind of focus group and help us gather information so we can get a sense from parents what is the best solution from their individual perspectives.
    “If you think about what has changed in the last 10 years, if you go back in time, we all went to school where we were told to go to school. There was a local school in our area and 99 per cent of people did that. In today’s climate, and in the last 10 years we have had legislation that the provincial government has passed regarding school of choice and asserting parents should have a choice on where their kids go to school.”
    He explains today there are many more choices for families as to how their child is educated, from home school to separate divisions, online courses and distance learning.
    “I don’t think it really works for us anymore to hire a 'so called' expert who looks at our situation and says ‘clearly this is the answer and you should do this.’ And we do it, and parents continue to make choices that best suit them and their kids. We need a process that gets to that,” said Daverne. “People make choices on schools based on what is best for their family, what is best for their kids and I think there is a culture around that … in this process we are looking to build perhaps a new culture, but more importantly than where we end up in the process is how to get there and we need to have something that tells us what parents will support.”
    The group will be meeting throughout January and February to consider the information and investigate options.
    “Our hope is that through this process of investigation and feedback, some clear options will emerge that can be seen to have the potential for support of parents in all the East Wheatland communities. This will allow Golden Hills to proceed to the next planned phase of the process. At that time, by way of another public meeting (similar to those held in the fall), Golden Hills would present the best options and receive feedback prior to a decision by the board,” said a release.
    The division will keep information on the progress available on its website at www.ghsd75.ca. Contact names and numbers for the working group are available on the website. They have set up the e-mail address workinggroup@ghsd75.ca for residents to contact one or the entire group. They are also planning to send out an e-mail survey.


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