School District 73 has set a date for a public meeting to discuss the potential re-opening of Ralph Bell elementary in Valleyview.
The public meeting will be held on May 5 at 6:30 p.m., live streamed on the district’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. All slots have been filled for public input during the meeting, but questions and comments can also be submitted to SD73 via its website, at sd73.bc.ca.
The public consultation period will continue until June 21.
To ease pressure from increasing enrolment, SD73 is considering re-opening Ralph Bell elementary, which was shuttered in 2010 when the district reconfigured its schools. The move would result in a change to catchment areas for Juniper Ridge elementary and Marion Schilling elementary.
Currently, Juniper Ridge elementary currently catches all students living in Juniper Ridge, and Marion Schilling elementary catches all students in Valleyview and Rose Hill.
The proposed catchment area for Ralph Bell elementary would capture all students in Rose Hill, the western end of Juniper Ridge and the western tip of Valleyview.
Juniper Ridge elementary is currently operating at 143 per cent of its capacity and Marion Schilling elementary is at 97 per cent.
With catchment changes, Juniper Ridge capacity would ease to 113 per cent, Marion Schilling would ease to 85 per cent and Ralph Bell would re-open at 116 per cent capacity.
If Ralph Bell is reopened, it would be done in September 2022 and require a one-time capital cost of $759,000 in upgrades.
In addition, another $464,000 in annual operating costs is projected to cover the cost of various staffing positions and bussing some former Juniper Ridge elementary students to Ralph Bell.
If Ralph Bell were to reopen, catchment area changes would see 129 of the 513 students now at Juniper Ridge being bussed to Ralph Bell. The reopening would also see 82 of the 317 kids now attending Marion Schilling switch to Ralph Bell, some by bus, others walking/being driven to school.