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Board decides Grade 6 students move to Walshe

Livingstone Range School Board decided Wednesday Grade 6 students will move to F.P. Walshe school when Fort Macleod schools are modernized.
G.R. Davis school will close as part of the modernization plan, and W.A. Day school will house Kindergarten to Grade 5 students.
The school board set Fort Macleod as Priority 1 in its facilities plan.
When government funding comes available, W.A. Day school will be modernized and re-configured to Kindergarten to a Grade 5 school and F.P. Walshe school will be modernized and re-configured to a Grades 6 to 12 facility.
Livingstone Range associate superintendent for business services Jeff Perry presented some figures derived from an Alberta Education Value Management Session held in Fort Macleod from Feb. 8-10.
The cost for Kindergarten to Grade 6 and Grade 7-12 schools would be about $19.25-million.
A Kindergarten to Grade 5 school and a Grade 6-12 schools would cost about $18.288-million.
F.P. Walshe school would also be right-sized to increase its utilization rate, which is the amount of space actually used by the school.
Initially, three portables had also been proposed for W.A. Day school, but Perry was told by a provincial government representative that $800,000 cost could not be justified because the school’s utilization rate was already too low.
Trustees Lori Hodges and Martha Ratcliffe expressed concerns about Grade 6 students being at a high school.
Ratcliffe was particularly concerned because Grade 6 students write a provincial achievement test which they would be prepared for the first five years at another school.
Superintendent Ellie Elliott said she hoped the test would not be the driver, noting there can be benefits to older students with younger ones in the school.
Trustee Shannon Scherger said satisfaction surveys show there is a lack of a sense of belonging.
Scherger has also observed Livingstone school which is Kindergarten to Grade 12 and Granum school which is Kindergarten to Grade 9 and sees the mentoring going on between older and younger students.
Scherger emphasized if the individual needs of each student are the focus, then grade configuration doesn’t matter.
Trustee Kelly Hall concurred. She noted today trustees were talking about bricks and mortar and ultimately student success will depend on the school program.
“Anything is possible,” Hall said.
“It’s what we do that’s within the classroom that means something,” trustee Clara Yagos added.
“Kids are adaptable,” said chairman Dick Peterson, adding they will learn in whatever positive environment they are in.
Peterson also pointed out the division realistically was more likely to receive funding for a Grade 6-12 school, emphasizing nothing can be accomplished with no funding at all.
Trustees voted unanimously on the Kindergarten to Grade 5 and Grade 6-12 alternative in Fort Macleod.
They also approved the next three priorities.
Priority 2 is Nanton schools. The Nanton community is to complete a study on Nanton school facilities, then J.T. Foster school will be right-sized and modernized based on a completed facilities study, and A.B. Daley school will be modernized based on that study.
Priority 3 is Canyon school in Pincher Creek which will be modernized and right-sized.
Priority 4 will be a modernization of Livingstone school in Lundbreck.

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