FAQ Follow Up from Evergreen Decanting Community Meeting
Thank you to everyone who attended our community meeting on Wednesday, April 5, 2017. Closing down Evergreen School is going to have a substantial impact on Drayton Valley but as evident from this meeting, by coming together we are confident WRSD and Drayton Valley will be able to work through this situation together. The following list gives a brief breakdown of the questions WRSD has received since our Board of Trustees decided to close Evergreen Elementary, along with some answers.
- Are the funds secured for the modernization?
- Yes, the funding for the Evergreen Elementary modernization are secured from Alberta Education / Infrastructure and the project will be proceeding.
- Right now WRSD does not have any boundaries in place for the Drayton Valley schools and there are no current plans to put any in place.
- The architect has provided WRSD with a timeline to have the portables installed by the third week of August. The architect is confident that this timeline will be achievable due to many modular requirements already built into H.W. Pickup. The timeline provided to us for moving the modulars indicates that we will need to vacate them by the third or fourth week of June. This means our staff and students that use the modulars will need to find alternate space within Evergreen School during the last week of June. With warmer weather and various classes away from the school on field trips during this last week, there should be enough space at the school.
- If they are not ready for the 1st day of classes, the school will need to make temporary use of open spaces like the library and gym. However, as stated above, we are not anticipating a problem.
- A similar transition plan used in the past for grade six students in Drayton Valley will be applied for grade 4 and 5 this year. This plan includes a visit in the spring from H.W. Pickup staff and students, team building activities led by AIM for Success and open house events.
- An orientation meeting will be planned for this spring to allow students and parents to meet staff, tour facilities and have any further questions answered.
- Our goal is to do what is best for our students while working with the current CAAMSE collective agreement.
- The Drayton Valley school librarians are already working together to ensure the proper books get transferred to the new schools based on their grade configurations.
- Moving the playground equipment at Evergreen Elementary to H.W. Pickup is not likely to happen. However, H.W. Pickup had already been fundraising this year to buy their own playground equipment prior to the Evergreen Elementary decision. An elementary school and a middle school have different needs for their playground equipment. As such H.W. Pickup will continue with their current playground project, taking into consideration their new grade configuration starting next year.
- The main goal of a middle school is to transition students from elementary school to high school. This means students will have more teachers compared to an elementary level but less than a student would in high school. Classes will be assigned a small team of teachers ensuring students have enough time to develop the important relationships needed for success.
- The Alberta Education Program of Studies contains complementary curriculum specifically written for grades 5-9 entitled Career and Technology Foundations (CTF). The CTF courses help students build their understanding of the world around them as they identify and apply career and life skills. Students develop communication, collaboration, critical thinking, time management and problem-solving skills through hands-on learning experiences. This approach gives students the foundation they need to transition into Career and Technology Studies (CTS) in grades 10-12. The CTF curriculum is broken down into five categories: Human Services, Business, Communications, Resources and Technology. Some of these categories may include the use of the shop, foods room and other school resources. Music, Art and French may be offered depending on student interest and the availability of teachers able to teach those subjects.
- H.W. Pickup currently has 504 lockers and with the addition of the new modulars will have 100 more. That means the total locker space available in 2017-2018 will be 604 and there is an anticipated enrollment number of 575. If our enrollment is higher than anticipated we also have an additional 20 lockers that can be added to the school. School administration will work to ensure the youngest grades have their homeroom classes and lockers as close together as possible.
- There are two possibilities for how recess will be planned:
- Two traditional shorter recess breaks in mid-morning and mid-afternoon with a longer lunch break around noon
- A balanced schedule with two longer breaks in mid-morning and mid-afternoon and no traditional lunch break at noon
- Currently, WRSD elementary schools use an outcome-based report cards while our high schools use percentages. When it comes to our division III (grades 7-9) grades there is some variation with some of our schools using percentages and others using outcomes. It is anticipated that next year grade five and six students will continue to use outcome-based report cards. The grade seven and eight students will most likely continue using percentages. School staff will be heavily involved in this decision as the year progresses to ensure this is the best approach.
- We do not anticipate a large increase in average class sizes for next year. If there are increases they will be due to decreases in provincial funding rather than the closure of Evergreen School.
- Grade nine students will have the opportunity to participate on junior varsity teams or grade 9 specific teams at FMHS. Grade nine students will not use a year of eligibility as long as the play on a grade nine or junior varsity team. At H.W. Pickup the school will maintain the sports they are currently offering for grade 7 & 8 students. For grade five and six students, there will be a different approach to sports that will be crafted to their developmental needs.
- The Drayton Valley Boys and Girls Club has indicated that they will support parents anywhere there is a need. There will also be a variety of afterschool clubs and team sports that run throughout the school year.
- The Evergreen School Council will be temporarily shut down until the school is reopened. At that time they will elect a new school council based on the parents who are involved with the school at that time. The funds in their current account will be transferred in trust to WRSD. The current Evergreen School Council will provide in writing to WRSD how the funds are to be used. Examples of how the funds could be used is a possible donation to HW Pickup for playground equipment or to hold them until the new school opens.
- Meetings with families and teachers involved with our special needs students will be happening soon. These meetings will be initiated by the school principal and Student Support Facilitators, with support from the WRSD Director of Student Support Services & School Completion.
- Ensuring students have the proper supervision at the Bus Hub is the number one priority for WRSD. Instead of relying on the Rotary House when buses arrive at the hub, they will hold students on the bus until all buses have arrived and it is safe for students to leave. This means that students who walk to the hub will need to ensure they are not coming too early.
- The WRSD Transportation department along with our Occupational Health and Safety Officer will develop a safety plan for the Bus Hub.
- Upon assessing the available spaces we had for students in Drayton Valley it became very clear that we didn’t have a lot of flexibility. Closing Evergreen School allowed their modular classrooms to be moved to another school. H.W. Pickup was the only school in Drayton Valley designed to easily add modular classrooms. Moving the modulars to Eldorado or Aurora was still considered, but at both schools, if they received the modulars we would have been two classrooms short. Moving the modulars to H.W. Pickup allowed for the most efficient use of space and construction time. This meant all students from grades 5-8 would need to be moved to H.W. Pickup. Moving all four grades to this school left enough space at Eldorado, Aurora and DCS for the remaining students. While FMHS had enough space to take all of the grade nine students they couldn’t take all of the grade eight students as well.
- Alberta Education has been heavily involved throughout the Evergreen Elementary project. They have let WRSD know that as a Division we need to improve the utilization rates of our schools. Ironically, being down a building will do exactly that. Our remaining four school buildings will be very well utilized for the next three years until the new Evergreen School comes back online. As such, we may not have much of a choice regarding some of these grade configurations. For example, it is very likely that after three years, we will need to continue to use FMHS as a grade 9 -12 school in order to maintain the expected utilization rates for that building. This means we will need to continue with the middle school concept at H.W. Pickup. However, in moving the modulars back to Evergreen School, it will most likely be a grade 6-8 school rather than 5-8. There is also a good chance that after three years of experiencing these new grade configurations and getting used to them, many of our students and parents will want them to continue on. That leaves just the three elementary schools. This is where public input will be very helpful. Do we keep them all three as grade K-5 schools or do we do something different? These decisions are unlikely to impact the design of Evergreen’s modernization. Regardless of the decision made, it will be an elementary school. In addition, we know that some of the modulars at Eldorado are getting older and it is unlikely that Alberta Education will provide us funds for replacing them after the major modernization of Evergreen. As such, in order to improve our utilization rates, we may need to remove some of the older portables from Eldorado or DCS all together.
- We are looking at having a classroom layout that will ensure students will spend the majority of their time in classrooms with windows.
- Currently, the principals and WRSD senior administration are meeting to assess personal preference and work together on a plan that ensures we have the required skills in each school. There will be significant staff change but it will be based on what is best for students with staff input.
- A transportation plan is currently in development to ensure that all students and families become properly oriented with the schedule and timeline around bus transportation.
If you would like more information or have any further questions please contact WRSD at 403-845-3376 or email WRSD Communications Coordinator, Nathan Klosse at firstname.lastname@example.org