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Board Policies

Policy 15

School Closures

Background

The Board recognizes that under certain conditions it may become necessary to consider the closure of a school or program. That consideration can occur under, but is not limited to, the following conditions:

1.      Enrollment has been at or below a critical level for a period of time, the needs of students, parents, staff, electors who are not parents, and the community have been taken into consideration and/or

2.      As a result of a recommendation from a consolidation study, or

3.      Any other reasons that the Board may consider advisable, and

4.      The  current  requirements  of  the  School  Act  and  Alberta  Learning  Regulations  have  been considered.

In respect to school closure the Board believes that an orderly and fair process should be in place to provide the Board appropriate information prior to any decision being made. This policy sets out the process leading to the consideration of school or program closure.

Specifically:

1.      All of the subsequent steps referred to in this policy, from the point of recommendation that closure be considered, to the decision for closure, (or no closure) must be completed within the same school year unless the Minister has extended the time for the procedures on the written request of the Board. The effective date of closure shall, under normal circumstances, be for the following school year.

2.      The Board may effect closure in any of the following circumstances:

2.1     Close a school permanently or for a specified period of time;

2.2     Close entirely, three or more consecutive grades in an elementary school;

2.3     Close the entire junior high school program or the entire high school program in a school; or

2.4     Transfer all students from one school to one or more other schools.

3.      The Board may call for a study to be done in respect of the operation of a school(s) and shall advise the person(s) doing the study to report to the committee of the Board (referred to in Section

5) on the matters under review, including making a recommendation to the committee as to whether there should be closure of the school or at the school.

4.      The study shall include a review of the following matters:

4.1     The enrollment and programs of all schools within the same geographic area;

4.2     The attendance areas of the school(s);

4.3     The present enrollments, enrollment trends for the particular school(s);

4.4     The programs at the particular school(s);

4.5     The attendance at other schools of students relocated by virtue of school(s) closure;

4.6     The need for and extent of bussing;

4.7     The effect on community activities of an education, social, cultural, or recreational nature;

4.8     Program implications for the students when they are attending other schools;

4.9    The  educational  and  financial  impact  of  closing  the  school(s),  including  the  effect  on operational costs and the capital implications;

4.10  The financial and educational impact of not closing the school(s);

4.11  The capital needs of other schools that may have increased enrollments as a result of the transfer of students arising from school closure;

4.12  Possible alternatives, if any, to school closure if that is identified as an option;

4.13  If closure is identified as an option, the proposed disposition of the closed school;

4.14  Non-resident student enrollment and related financial arrangements;

4.15  Age and physical condition of the building;

4.16  Adequacy  of   site,   location,   access,   surrounding  development,  traffic   patterns,  and environmental conditions; and

4.17  Costs (personnel, plant operations, transportation, capital, alternative uses).

5.      At the time the study is commissioned a committee of the Board consisting of at least two trustees, with one representing the area in which each school being studied is located, the Superintendent or delegate, the school principal and one other staff member chosen by the principal from each school being studied, the Chair of the School Council and one other parent at large, chosen by the school principal, and other members from the attendance area of the school under study, as the Board may consider advisable, shall be established.

6.      The Board shall announce, in whatever way it considers most effective, the fact that the study has been commissioned, a general description of its terms of reference and the date by which its report to the Board is due and shall name a contact person (the Superintendent of Schools) for the study group to whom interested persons may make submissions.

7.      The committee shall, upon receipt of the report of the study group, determine the course of actions it will recommend to the Board from the various conclusions and recommendations contained in the report although it shall not be bound to accept any one of the recommendations contained therein. The committee shall thereafter forward its findings and recommendations to the Board, together with a copy of the study report.

8.      The Board shall make available to the public the findings and recommendations of the committee.

9.      If the committee recommends closure to the Board, the Board chairman will, at the same meeting at which the recommendation is received, give a notice of motion that at a future specified meeting of the Board the question of whether to close a school in accordance with the recommendation, will be put to a vote.

10.    The Board shall, at the same meeting at which the notice of motion is given, establish the date, time and place for a public meeting. The notice shall make it clear that the purpose of the meeting is to permit  discussion  of  the  contemplated  closure  and  its  implications  for  the  students,  for  the community and for the school system. As well, discussion will focus on implementation plans subsequent to closure and alternatives to closure identified by the public.

11.    In addition, the Board will thereafter and prior to the public meeting called for under Section 10, give a notice to the parents of each student and child attending each school, in respect of which a notice of motion has been given, advising of the following:

11.1  How the closure would affect the attendance area defined for that school;

11.2  How the closure would affect the attendance at other schools;

11.3  The number of students who would need to be relocated as a result of the closure;

11.4  The need for, and extent of, bussing;

11.5   Program implications for other school and for the students when they are attending other schools;

11.6  The educational and financial impact if the school were to remain open;

11.7  The capital needs of  the school that may have increased enrollment as a result of  the closure;

11.8  If the entire school is to closed, the proposed use of the school building; and

11.9  The time, date, and place of the public meeting.

12.    The public meeting referred to in Section 9 shall be conducted in such a manner as the Board considers will best attain the objective of maximizing public input in a civil and constructive manner, without fettering unnecessarily the opportunity for full and frank discussion of the issues that come forward. The Chair of the meeting shall be determined by the Board, with reference to the recommendation of the review committee referred to in Section 5.

13.   The Board will provide notice of the public meeting in the following ways:

13.1  By sending a notice of the meeting home with each student and child attending the school as required by Section 11; and

13.2  By posting these notices in five or more conspicuous places in the areas of the school or schools affected by the notices of motion referred to above, with such postings to remain in place at least 14 days before the date of the public meeting; and

13.3  By advertising in a newspaper circulating within the area or areas of the schools affected by the proposed closure, on at least two occasions, as close as is practicable, to the date of the public meeting.

14.    The Board shall ensure that at least two trustees attend the public meeting, with it being desirable that all trustees on the committee that received the study report be present.

15.    The Board shall arrange to have minutes of the public meeting prepared and made available to the public.

16.    The Board shall cause the Chair of the public meeting to announce that any interested person may make written submissions to the Board, through the Superintendent of Schools, if such written submissions are received at the Board office not later than the 22nd day (three weeks) following the public meeting.

17.     Any submissions received by the Superintendent shall be provided to the Board prior to any decision of the Board on the notice of motion regarding closure.

18.     The decision of the Board on each motion made arising from a notice of motion under this policy shall be made at a public meeting of the Board.

19.     If the Board decides to close any school it shall forthwith notify the Minister of Learning in writing.

 

Revised:

Reference: Section 58, 200, 201, School Act

Alberta Learning Regulation 257/2003