New Westminster's Hume Park elementary to remain open
Hume Park elementary, the smallest school in the New Westminster school district with 28 students, has a second life.
At Tuesday night's school board meeting, trustees voted down a motion to close the school and consolidate it with nearby Sir Richard McBride elementary.
Approval of the motion would have started the closure/consolidation process, legislated by the School Act, requiring a 45-day consultation, presentation of a closure report and a school board meeting with both the Hume Park and Richard McBride school communities.
Board chair Michael Ewen agreed it is costly for the district to keep a school open for just 26 students. But he believes school attendance could increase if uncertainty surrounding the future of the school was removed.
Last year the district began the closure/consolidation process for Hume Park but at the last minute the board voted against closing it.
"You could make an argument that uncertainty around the school has caused attendance to drop," said Ewen, referring to Hume Park's attendance drop from 66 students last year.
Nikki Binns agreed. The chair of the Hume's parent advisory council spoke to most of the parents whose children left Hume this fall and 80 per cent told her they did so because of the school's uncertain future.
Binns greeted Tuesday's board decision as good news, But it won't be enough to bring those students back, she said.
"It's good news for us but now we need a long-term commitment from the board. If we get that commitment we can rebuild the school. It would take about five years," said Binns.
Ewen also believes Hume should be kept open because the launch of all-day kindergarten next fall will require more space. The district is setting up nine new classroom portables to accommodate the expected enrolment increase.
"It wouldn't be responsible to close a school given the need for more space in the district," said Ewen.