Hume Park elementary faces axe again

The New Westminster school district's budget woes could be the death blow for Hume Park elementary.

District superintendent John Gaiptman recommended to the school board at its meeting Tuesday that it consider shutting down the regular education programs at the school on July 1.

Gaiptman said with only 23 students enrolled at the school this year, and fewer forecast for next year, there are educational as well as financial reasons to close the school. The small student body means the school's two teachers are teaching six grades.

Closing those two classes would save the district about $73,000 said school board chair Jonina Campbell. The school's Home Learners program wouldn't be effected.

Gaiptman said a letter was sent home to parents advising them of his intentions prior to the meeting and two them attended to speak.

"We have excellent schools in New West, and parents want to keep their schools open," said Gaiptman. "The question is whether or not it still remains viable with the numbers."

Trustee Casey Cook called Hume Park "a great community school, and people really value that."

It's not the first time Hume Park elementary has faced the chopping block. In 2012 the board gave it a reprieve from a similar fate after a community committee made a case to keep it open. They said new development in the Sapperton area would increase the student population in the school's catchment area to 91 by 2017-18 and to 166 by 2025.

But with the district facing financial pressure, Gaiptman said it can't wait for that to happen.

"My job as superintendent is to give all the facts to the board when I think there is an issue," said Gaiptman.

At the meeting the board agreed to initiate a 45-day consultation process with parents before making a final decision. That process will include a special meeting to deal specifically with Hume Park, but a date has not yet been set.


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