The fate of Midway Elementary School hangs in the balance amid public consultations. File photo

The fate of Midway Elementary School hangs in the balance amid public consultations. File photo

West Boundary municipalities disagree about proposed school closure

Closure would see Midway elementary students, staff absorbed by Greenwood elementary

Greenwood and Midway councils are at odds over the proposed closure of Midway Elementary School (MES), according to letters published by the Boundary’s school district, SD 51.

Mayor and council at the Village of Midway publicly opposed the proposed closure in early February, while a Feb. 15 letter signed by Greenwood Mayor Barry Noll puts city council in the opposite corner.

It falls to the Boundary Board of Education (school board) to decide if it will shutter MES, in which case staff and students would join their peers in Grades 4-7 at neighbouring Greenwood Elementary School starting in September.

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

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

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Superintendent Anna Lautard told the school board in November that SD 51 had concerns about staffing and supervision at both schools, which share staff and resources. Most of the students at MES live in Greenwood, according to SD 51.

The school board and SD 51 are in the midst of a public consultation process, wherein the school district said it would consider letters by affected residents and staff that came in by Feb. 17. The district published the letters ahead of the next round of public talks in Midway on Thursday, Feb. 24.

(Front: L-R) Penny Feist, Chief Administrative Officer at the Village of Midway sits next to Mayor Martin Fromme. In behind, from left to right, are Couns. Darrin Metcalf, Gary Schierbeck, Richard Dunsdon and Fred Grouette. Photo: midwaybc.ca

(Front: L-R) Penny Feist, Chief Administrative Officer at the Village of Midway sits next to Mayor Martin Fromme. In behind, from left to right, are Couns. Darrin Metcalf, Gary Schierbeck, Richard Dunsdon and Fred Grouette. Photo: midwaybc.ca

The Village of Midway came out against the closure at council’s Feb. 7 regular meeting, when council unanimously backed Coun. Fred Grouette’s motion to write SD 51 a letter of opposition on behalf of the elected body. Council was still considering how to craft the letter when it came up for discussion at chambers Tuesday, Feb. 22.

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Mayor Martin Fromme and his wife Elaine meanwhile co-signed a letter to SD 51 arguing against the proposed closure.

Writing as private residents, the Frommes insisted that the village school house “represents Midway’s long-time commitment to its children,” further stating that SD 51 could resolve its staffing and safety concerns by hiring another teacher at MES.

Granting that this would cost the district, which shares staff and resources between the two schools, the Frommes pointed out that “money does not appear to be an issue in the closure,” adding that SD 51 would lose around $230,000 in education ministry funding if MES were to close.

Taking the opposite view, a signed letter by Greenwood Mayor Barry Noll expresses city council’s support for the proposed closure.

Greenwood mayor Barry Noll greets constituents after his swearing-in ceremony at the city’s McArthur Centre on Oct. 21, 2021. Photo: Laurie Tritschler

Greenwood mayor Barry Noll greets constituents after his swearing-in ceremony at the city’s McArthur Centre on Oct. 21, 2021. Photo: Laurie Tritschler

Asking SD 51 not to publish the letter, Noll wrote, “The City of Greenwood’s Council agrees with the safety and financial concerns addressed by the Board of Education and support the change of Greenwood Elementary back into a K-7 school.”

Noll was not available for comment before The Times published this story Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 23.

Speaking as mayor, Fromme that council would likely voice its opposition at Thursday’s meeting, which kicks off at Boundary Central Secondary School at 6 p.m., according to SD 51’s website.

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