In the coming weeks, Buffalo Trail Public Schools (BTPS) will be investigating whether to close Clandonald School.
The small, rural K-6 school, with a private kindergarten, has been in and out of these closure discussions for many years, but many still feel they provide hands-on opportunities and one-on-one time that students don’t get elsewhere.
That’s why the school was reluctant to announce another discussion surrounding the potential closure of their facility.
“It’s heartbreaking for this conversation to even come up this year, and that’s why this is such a challenging thing,” said BTPS Board Chair, Lanie Parr.
She said at this point they are just “investigating” the closure – they are looking to hear feedback and gather some input from the community. They will both share information and collect information from the community, trying to work together throughout the process.
Whatever information the community is able to provide will help the school board reach their decision.
“This community is so incredibly supportive of the school,” said Parr.
“It’s really unbelievable how much support there is, and even families that don’t have children enrolled anymore are always finding ways to help by supporting hot lunch or getting the seniors involved at the school. They’ve won an Emerald Award for their environmental projects, and they’ve done some really incredible things at Clandonald School.”
The Friends of Clandonald Society and school council hosted Prairie Principal, Kevin Van Lagen, in a virtual meeting February 10, to share his personal experiences of redefining rural education in the hopes of sparking some new ideas for Clandonald.
“We’re very blessed to be surrounded by a supportive community, and by partnering with the County of Vermilion River and BTPS we are all looking at doing what is best for the school to find a way to revive and sustain our little hamlet with lots of heart,” said Laurie Hopaluk, school council vice president.
She said it’s not just a school issue, but a decision that would create a great impact on the whole community. Even for those that have no children attending the school, being a rural community, its longevity is valuable to all of the area residents, she said.
Prior to the official meetings, discussions will be held by community members to assess what their direction will be or what they want to present. Anyone interested in more information on what they can do to help the community can contact Laurie Hopaluk by texting or calling 780-581-8289.
Any member of the public can watch the virtual BTPS community meeting on February 25, from 7 – 9 pm by accessing the Zoom link found at www.btps.ca, but to register as a speaker you will have to email board secretary Faye Dunne at [email protected] by February 18.
The final decision on whether to keep Clandonald School open or to close it won’t be made until BTPS holds its March board meeting.