Golden Hills motion ends Grade 9 at Hussar, Rockyford | DrumhellerMail
Last updateTue, 28 May 2024 4pm

Golden Hills motion ends Grade 9 at Hussar, Rockyford

Golden Hills School Division has gone forward with their plan to close the Grade 9 programs at Rockyford School and Hussar School.
    At the Board’s January 27 meeting, they made the motion to close two of the programs and have them transferred to other Golden Hills School Division schools. Unlike a school closure, which is defined as the closure of three or more grades, there are no more public meetings to discuss the changes. Come next school year, there will no longer be Grade 9 programs in Hussar or Rockyford.
    “There is no further requirement other than to meet with the parents directly impacted and that will occur,” said Golden Hills board chair Ron Kenworthy.
    He says transfers in the past have followed the same procedures, and to remain fair these transfers would follow the same protocol.
    “We felt there has been an awful lot of consultation about this, and there has been discussion with the last three or four boards,” he said. “We knew what people felt…in the letters, faxes and the e-mails we received, we hoped there might be some solution people had, but there was nothing that impacts the solution.”
    Shelly Neal, a parent with students at Rockyford School says any discussion on the subject at Tuesday’s meeting took place in camera, and the board only spoke publicly to vote on the program transfers. It was a recorded vote, with Trustee Shirley Buyer voting against the motion.
    “There is not a whole lot we can do about our Grade 9’s,” said Neal.
    A parent from Rockyford School spoke at the meeting, and there were a package of letters written by the students from Rockyford who are going into Grade 9. Neal said the board disregarded the package.
    "Not even their own trustee asked to read the letters before they voted. I just think that is so inconsiderate of them… I have one student who said, ‘I worked three days on that letter trying to figure out what to write and how to say it.’ Whether it influenced the motion or not, it’s the perception.”
    While some parents expressed the closure of the single grade may lead to the piecing apart of the school, Kenworthy says that is not the board’s intention.
    “That is not on our radar, I know there is a concern, and that being said, we cannot make promises, because we don’t know what is going to happen in the future,” said Kenworthy.
    Neal says because of the concern about the future of the school, parents are making decisions on where they send their children, rather than wait to see what the future holds.
    “Now we're starting to see our younger elementary students transferred to other schools other than Standard. They are going into the Catholic system, or they are going to Strathmore. We are happy with our students here, but if you are going to move our kids away from here, we’re going to start making choices.”
    One issue raised in the past was the continuation of Catholic programs that were developed since the demise of St. Rita’s. Kenworthy says such a program can be introduced at Standard School.
    “If there was a desire by students, there could be a locally developed program in the Standard School. It would have to receive board approval, and it would also have to receive approval from the Department of Education, and it would also require a good number of students wanting to take the program,” said Kenworthy.
    Karen MacKay is a parent of a student in Grade 8 at Rockyford School. She says it is time to start looking how to make a bad situation better.
    “I was disappointed,” she said after the meeting. “I don’t think we were heard.”
    “What I am thinking is the fight is over. There is no way of changing them.”
    “Enough fighting, now it is time to come up with an alternative to save our school in the long run.”
    MacKay has been in Rockyford for 15 years, and there has been lots of talk about closure. She understands why emotions run high.
    “It is very overwhelming for a town, you get your back up right away. I want to look at the positive. It is time now to make sure Golden Hills follows through and we get the programming we all deserve if nothing else, and sustain the rest of our school.”
    The board also made the motions to pursue the closure of Pontmain school and Grade 9-12 program at Central Bow Valley school. See ad on B2 for dates and times.



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