Drainage issues at Prairiedale Elementary School are one of several building deficiencies that education officials will be assessing in the next several months as they determine the school’s fate.
At a meeting in Vanderhoof on Monday, Oct. 15, the Nechako Lakes School District Board of Education announced plans to open a public consultation process over the possible closure, renovation or amalgamation of Prairiedale Elementary, which accommodates 92 students in four separate classrooms.
The board has known about the school’s deteriorating condition for about eight to 10 years, said Chair Rosalie Nichiporuk.
“We have to deal with this. It’s time to deal with this,” she told a board meeting room crammed full of people, some of whom were parents of Prairiedale students.
Due to a lack of information from the school district’s staff, including an updated engineering report on Prairiedale’s structural integrity, Nichiporuk reiterated numerous times that the board had no answers regarding the possible reconfiguration of Vanderhoof area schools.
“There are lots of questions we need answered,” she said.
Nichiporuk said that a public consultation process could begin sometime between November 2012 and January 2013 and last no less than 60 days, with meetings probably occurring in the evening amid a “community hall-style” atmosphere.
Despite the board’s uncertainty, one stakeholder asked if Prairiedale’s fate would be based on money or the best interests of kids.
“I think at this point it’s in the best interest of kids, but we don’t have a pot full of money,” said Nichiporuk.
Although the school is about 50 years old and exhibits signs of deterioration, Prairiedale doesn’t pose a hazard to students, said principal Lauretta Hunter.
As of Thursday, Oct. 18, Hunter hadn’t received any plans or information from the board regarding the public consultation process.
“I don’t really know what the future holds,” she said.
“Parents are of course very concerned too about what’s going to happen. We are happy here.”