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School board decides fate of Blackwater Creek Elementary this week

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The parents and supporters of children at the smallest school in the Howe Sound district were looking forward to a positive announcement about the future of Blackwater Creek Elementary this week.

"Our hope is that they keep it open," said Rebecca Thevarge, who has a child in Grade 1 at the school and two more she hopes will attend in the future.

On Wednesday night – after Pique went to press – the school board was to announce their decision on the school, which this year is teaching 13 students from Kindergarten to Grade 3 from the Birken and D’Arcy area.

It has been considering closing the school to cut costs. The board is short $759,000 and closing Blackwater Creek was expected to produce savings of up to $123,000,

However, school board superintendent Dr. Linda Rossler said those savings might be compromised as it is likely closing the school would affect the overall class size average in the district and may lead to the board having to hire another teacher.

"This is something we have to consider," said Rossler.

Other issues which had to be considered included the quality of education offered, the school population trends and predictions, the program offerings in the adjoining school, which is Signal Hill, the school capacity in Signal Hill, the distance students would have to travel if the school were closed, and the impact of maintaining the school on all students in the district.

The board has been collecting information and input from the community for several months.

Population trends suggest the school will have over 20 students in four of the next five years, which is enough students to run one class.

Thevarge, a N’Quatqua council member, believes asking primary school children to travel one hour each way on the bus is too much.

"I know when we have to drive to Pemberton we often have to stop along the way (for bathroom breaks)," she said.

There are no adults on the bus apart from the driver, no food is allowed on the bus and there are no seat belts. Kids in kindergarten are aged four and five.

Thevarge is also thrilled with the education at the school.

"I think they are receiving an excellent education."

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