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Change is afoot for North Shore schools in Kamloops

Brocklehurst middle school may shift from a Grade 7 to Grade 9 school to a Grade 8 to Grade 12 school and NorKam secondary may switch from grades 10 to 12 to grades 8 to 12

A big shakeup is in the works for North Shore schools, with grade configurations and catchment boundaries set to change.

On June 19, the Kamloops-Thompson board of education will vote on eight recommendations made by district staff to change elementary schools to Kindergarten to Grade 7 and two schools to Grade 8 to Grade 12.

Under the recommendations, Brocklehurst middle school would shift from a Grade 7 to Grade 9 school to a Grade 8 to Grade 12 school and NorKam secondary would shift from grades 10 to 12 to grades 8 to 12.

Elementary schools, including A.E. Perry, Arthur Hatton, Bert Edwards, Kay Bingham, Parkcrest and Rayleigh, would become Kindergarten to Grade 7 schools.

The changes would not take place until September 2024 and consultation with school communities is currently underway.

When Parkcrest elementary burned to the ground in 2019, its students moved to George Hilliard elementary. With Parkcrest students set to return to a newly built school in 2024, the school board will have to decide what becomes of George Hilliard.

Staff made two recommendations for George Hilliard: to either reopen it as a Kindergarten to Grade 7 school or move Twin Rivers Education Centre (TREC) students, who were displaced when Parkcrest students came in, back into the building.

Art McDonald, director of facilities for SD73, listed the pros and cons for each option during a presentation to the NorKam school community.

If George Hilliard reopens as a K-7 school, McDonald said there would be more catchment changes for elementary schools, space constraints may relocate TREC programs and some students might request transfers due to catchment boundary lines located close to NorKam and A.E. Perry.

Under the other option, with TREC moving into George Hilliard, McDonald said more portables would be required at elementary schools, there would be fewer students at Brocklehurst secondary and more at NorKam secondary (and less balance between the two) and less room for future growth in elementary schools.

“This option requires the least change for all involved,” McDonald told staff and parents during the presentation.

Assistant superintendent Vessy Mochikas said TREC runs three programs, including Four Directions (34 students), Bridges (11 students) and Alternative Education (188 students).

Following consultation with TREC staff, Mochikas said concerns are around space and programming pressures, as well as a previous promise for the program to return to George Hilliard.

“The majority of TREC staff did support the three recommendations, including ... to make George Hilliard a K-7 school,” Mochikas said.

Student populations at each of the affected schools stand to change, with the most notable being A.E. Perry, which is currently at 107 per cent capacity. If George Hilliard were to reopen as a K-7 school, A.E. Perry’s usage would drop to 95 per cent, while the other scenario would push the school to 117 per cent capacity.

NorKam secondary, currently at 88 per cent capacity, would drop to 87 per cent if George Hilliard reopens and to 94 per cent if it does not, while Brock secondary would start off with 66 per cent usage with George Hilliard as a K-7 school and to 57 per cent capacity otherwise.