The Friends of Clandonald Sustainability Foundation (FCSF), is encouraging families to enroll their children at Clandonald School, despite the fact that they will be down to one teacher next year.
FCSF president, Tracy Snider said that under the new provincial funding model Buffalo Trail Public Schools had to make similar choices across the division with teachers.
“We are going to make the best of it. The remaining teacher is full of energy and experience and is familiar with the children and the community,” said Snider.
Last year, Clandonald School had 21 students from Grades 1 – 6 after the junior high program was cut years ago.
The FCSF says that the small size is a benefit in many ways offering students opportunities they could not receive elsewhere.
The split-grade teaching allows students to work below or even above their grade levels when they are able which helps them to take ownership of their work, and to function as a family with the older students mentoring the younger ones.
A teaching aid is staying on as well.
FCSF member and past teacher, Geralyn McCormack, said that along with their recycling and composting, Clandonald School’s environmental projects earned them an Alberta Emerald Award a few years ago.
“In any rural areas the school is the heart of the community, and losing the school would be devastating for our community,” said Snider.
“When people come to the school they also stop and support local businesses.”
In order to keep their school viable and their community vibrant, FCSF is making an effort to attract young families by offering two financial assistance options.
A $600 rental subsidy per month for one year, and $5,000 towards a down payment for a purchase of a home or property within the busing zone are both available.
“The idea behind it was that we know what a gem we have in Clandonald. They do amazing things at that school, but it’s hard to share that with other people and we thought after a year people would know whether they wanted to stay,” said Snider.
The FCSF efforts have even been recommended as a model for other communities.