The benefits of having South Central High School in Oyen a Gr. 7-12 school and Oyen Public School a K-Gr. 6 outweigh the negatives, it was determined by Prairie Rose School Division (PRSD) trustees at their March 10 meeting.
Declining enrolment at the high school and a loss of rural education funding for OPS make the move logical from an administrative point of view.
“We gain $50,000 by making the change,” said PRSD superintendent Roger Clarke. “With K-6 at OPS and 7-12 at the high school, both get a share of that rural funding.”
The motion to make the move was opposed only by Lois Bedwell and Lucille Hertz, who represent New Brigden, Oyen Public, South Central High and Warren Peers schools for Ward 1 of the division.
“I don’t think its’s best for the students in Oyen,” said Hertz. “Grade 9 just moved over and we aren’t sure how that is even going yet.”
The Grade 9 students were moved from OPS at the start of the 2019-20 school year after lengthy consultations with parents. At the time, enrolment was expected to decline at SCS from 90 to 70 students.
Consultations and a survey again were conducted to gauge the interest of moving Grades 7 and 8 to the high school.
“When the survey was done the parents said they preferred having a K-Gr. 8 school and Gr. 9-12 for high school,” said Hertz.
PRSD chair Stuart Angle, however, said he has only heard positive feedback.
“I’ve only ever heard positive reports,” said Angle.
Trustee Arnold Frank said that when Redcliff had a similar transition, it provided more opportunities for the students.
“In Redcliff, I watched it transition and move to a more worldly environment. It has given them a better connection and sharing in transitioning to the next level,” said Frank.“The timing for this is perfect as far as I’m concerned.”
Bedwell asked what the cost would be for getting the high school prepared for the additional students.
“There will be shifting of teachers, but there will be very little cost. I don’t see any negatives. The teachers are still there, there will be no changes to the technology or the transportation. The teachers will be better utilized,” said Clarke. “There will be an opportunity for shop and other courses, and coaching sports for Grades 7,8, and 9. We gain financially.”
“Having the junior high students attend the same school as the high school students is beneficial to the younger students and the teachers. If you already know the student, then you aren’t starting over,” added Angle.