Parents in Burton got some good news Tuesday night when School District 10 voted to re-open the local school.
School board trustees voted unanimously to re-open the school for a Kindergarten-Grade 3 class this fall.
“I think it’s fantastic the school is reopening,” said Isabelle Bergeron, the president of the Burton Community Learning Centre, as she left the meeting. “Burton is seeing new young families come to town, and having a school in the village will be a great asset for those people.”
Administrators began looking into the possibility of re-opening the school last fall. That’s when parents in the community began lobbying the district, saying an influx of new families made the school viable again. It closed in 2012 when enrollment dropped too low.
At the meeting Tuesday night, the district’s superintendent said the financial analysis backed up the parent’s case.
“It is rare to be opening a school. It is fantastic!” said Terry Taylor. “In small communities you lose the school or the hospital, those really have an impact on the greater community.”
Taylor says now that trustees have given the go-ahead, staff will begin building up details of just how the school will operate, and what it will cost.
“There’s a lot of logistical details to reopening a school,” she said. “We’ve done some estimates around costing, we’ve done some projections about what it might mean for staffing, but essentially there hasn’t been an elementary school in the building since 2012.
“So it’s about getting a classroom ready, estimating school supplies, learning resources, tables and chairs for kindergarten to grade three, finding the right teacher… there are so many pieces.”
The administration projects the first year will see eight students from kindergarten to Grade 3 attending the school, with a total of 18 at its peak six years from now. If the numbers can be worked properly, students will be able to stay in Burton until Grade 7, in either a one-room or two-room school configuration.
Parents in Burton told the school district they planned to have their children attend the local school, and Taylor says administration based its estimates on those commitments. The plan also hinges on continuing provincial support for small rural schools that helps local districts keep them open.
“There are many things we don’t know,” she admits. “We are making our best guess based on what we know about funding behaviour , and calculated guess about funding in the future.”
But for now, parents are celebrating. Bergeron, who’s children went to school in Burton before it closed, said the Learning Centre is ready to be accommodating to the new students. The volunteer-run Centre offers programs to promote learning and wellness, food security, and arts and culture.
“I’m confident we can make it happen,” she said. “I think its great news for community, great news for SD #10, so we are happy the school is reopening.
“We will adjust our activities to fit with the schedule of the school, and there’ll be plenty of time to use the school for the Learning Centre when there are no kids around.”