School board chair Rose Zitko (fourth from the right) poses for a photo with board trustees. Photo: sd51.bc.ca

School board chair Rose Zitko (fourth from the right) poses for a photo with board trustees. Photo: sd51.bc.ca

‘Nothing’s set in stone,’ about Midway Elementary, says school board chair

The school board is currently scheduled to vote on the school’s fate in March

The Boundary’s school board hasn’t decided Midway Elementary School’s (MES’s) fate, according to board chair Rose Zitko.

With just over a month ahead of its scheduled vote on whether or not to close MES and amalgamate it with nearby Greenwood Elementary, Zitko said the board’s timeline was flexible.

“Nothing’s set in stone,” she told The Gazette Thursday, Feb. 10, adding that the board’s March 15 vote could be postponed.

The board voted in December to start a two-month public consultation process involving the board, management at School District 51 (SD 51) and potentially affected residents in both municipalities. An information package prepared by SD 51 and delivered at last month’s public forum in Midway suggests the proposed amalgamation would help attract and retain qualified teachers and alleviate safety concerns at both schools.

Rallying behind MES, an ad hoc committee of villagers insists the board and SD 51 are rushing the public consultation process in a bid to shutter the school.

Zitko said this was not true. The 60-day consultation period instead reflects clear policy guidelines in B.C.’s School Act, she said, reiterating that the board can extend that time-frame.

READ MORE: School district gives update on potential Midway school closure

READ MORE: Boundary School Board to consider school closure at Midway Elementary

“There’s lots of opinions out there, and some people believe our decision is already made. But, I assure you, it is not,” she continued.

Midway residents gather at the village elementary school Sunday, Feb. 6. Photo courtesy of Tasha Ho

Midway residents gather at the village elementary school Sunday, Feb. 6. Photo courtesy of Tasha Ho

The board has twice in recent memory voted down recommendations by SD 51 to close or significantly alter schools in the West Boundary and Grand Forks. The board in 2010 rejected a proposal to close Beaverdell Elementary, which Zitko later represented as a school board trustee.

In that capacity, Zitko said she voted against the district’s proposal five or six years later to change Grand Fork’s Perley Elementary into a middle school.

Repeatedly stressing that she and the rest of the board are eager to hear from potentially affected Midway and Greenwood residents, she said she’d not heard from the village’s ad hoc committee.

The committee, which claims to have garnered at least 600 signatures from current and former Midway residents, is welcome to submit its petition against the proposed closure at MES, but Zitko said SD 51 has asked for written submissions as it prepares for its next public forum on Feb. 24.

SD 51 Superintendent Anna Lautard was not available for comment when The Gazette published this story online Friday, Feb. 11. Board trustee Mark Danyluk, who represents district schools in Midway and Rock Creek, declined to comment, citing the board’s on-going deliberations.


 

@ltritsch1
laurie.tritschler@grandforksgazette.ca

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laurie.tritschler@boundarycreektimes.com

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Greenwood