Board approves changes for Botha, Stettler schools

The road towards the new configuration of the Stettler schools complex continued last week

The road towards the new configuration of the Stettler schools complex continued last week, as Clearview Public Schools trustees approved several motions.

At its regular meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 24, the board first unanimously approved a motion brought forth by trustee John Schofer to extend Botha School, which currently serves students from Kindergarten to Grade 5.

Effective next year, the school will include Grade 6, bringing it into alignment with the new configuration of the Stettler schools.

Board chair Cheri Neitz said the change would be of benefit, as it will help to reduce the number of transitions between schools for students attending Botha.

The second motion, also approved by the board, called for the formal consolidation of the secondary and outreach programs in Stettler.

Beginning with the 2015-2016 school year, the formerly separate schools will be operated as an amalgamated learning centre with three grade and program groupings: grades 7 through 9, grades 10 through 12 and outreach.

This means that the Stettler Outreach School, currently overseen by principal Roe Derosiers, will be brought under the leadership of the Stettler high school and its principal, Norbert Baharally.

The motion indicated that the outreach school would continue to operate in a separate location. According to the school division, the consolidation would improve access to resources and allow for more seamless programming.

This motion, brought forth by Stettler trustee Dave Goodwin, was approved by all trustees except for Yvette Cassidy, who was absent, and fellow Stettler trustee Staci Gerlitz, who voted against it.

Asked later by the Independent to explain her vote, Gerlitz said it was a matter of “personal principles,” but would not elaborate further, saying she was only one of seven trustees and adding, “The decision’s been made, and we need to focus on moving forward.”

She added later in an emailed statement that she was confident Stettler students would benefit from the arrangement, adding, “It is important that students who have difficulties in a traditional high school have another option, and that aspect isn’t changing.”

In a press release, the division reported that Sharon Fischer, the current principal of Stettler’s elementary and middle schools, will continue as principal of the new Stettler Elementary School, covering Kindergarten through Grade 6.

Baharally is also expected to continue in his role as principal of the secondary learning centre, which will cover grades 7 through 12 and the outreach program.

The release also expressed the division’s appreciation to Desrosiers for his leadership in the outreach school, and noted that superintendent Peter Barron is working with him “towards the best fit for next year’s assignment.”

As noted in a previous report, a committee will be formed to begin the process of determining a “new identity for the schools,” which may include “the possible renaming of the secondary learning centre.”

The board voted on Jan. 29 to accept Barron’s recommendation for a new configuration of the Stettler schools, with the goal of putting the changes into place in time for the 2015-2016 school year.

Since then, trustees have approved several additional motions, as the division works toward establishing how the new grade alignment will take shape.

An open house for school staff to discuss the new vision for Stettler’s schools is planned for Monday, March 16, while a public open house for parents and the community will be held at William E. Hay on Wednesday, March 18, beginning at 6:30 p.m.