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Sask. community will 'stand strong' to keep local school open, mayor says


A possible school closure in the Saskatchewan community of Arborfield has residents – including the mayor – upset.

The North East School Division (NESD) is reviewing the Arborfield school, which may lead to a decision to close the school, however, the mayor says the community wants the school to stay open.

“There are many young families in the Arborfield/Zenon Park area that want this school to remain for many years,” Chet Edwards told CTV News.

The students would instead attend school in Carrot River where a new school is under construction, roughly 25 kilometres away.

“To the community, this school means a walk to school versus an (hour-and-half)-plus bus ride one way for some kids, three hours on a bus per day is not educational for any age of person,” he said.

“To this community, this school means walking to a family’s house after school for child care versus no child care available in Carrot River due to being too full and no daycare attached to the new school being built in Carrot River. To the community, this school means opportunities that don’t involve driving to them but walking to them or walking home from them," he said.

"To this community, this school means many very important things in the upbringing of kids.”

Edwards said families in Arborfield are not against the new school in Carrot River but want their school to stay open.

“We have no negative remarks for that wonderful building, but we stand strong that we want our school here at home, in our hometown, to stay as is with the kids in it.”

NESD's director of education said the school division understands the emotion around the school review.

“Anytime that there's talks about discontinuance or anything that involves the school in any significant way, of course, the community would be involved,” Stacy Lair said. “People move to rural Saskatchewan specifically for experiences like that, and know that the community and the school are very closely connected.”

She said the families are invested in the school in their community, which was a testament to the importance of education.

Lair said the decision to review the Arborfield school was prompted by regulatory requirements.

According to Lair, as of September 30, there were 67 students from K to 12 at the school.

However, Edward said those numbers were expected to rise over the coming years.

“In (2023-24) there is an expected 83 students with the possibility of over 90,” he said, adding that in (2024-25) there was an expected 92 students, the year after that the school was expected to be at 96 students, 102 students for (2026-27) and 114 the year after that."

“The numbers look good, they just grow and grow and grow.”

Lair said the increasing number of students was something that would be part of the review.

“They've had a group of younger families move in so we do have some in our projection,” she said. “That's one of the considerations the board will take into account. They had original numbers based on data with health rates. Then we do rely on the community and the RM to provide us some actuals based on what they know because they know their community best.”

Lair said the review process needs to be completed by April 30, but that the board could make a decision on the school sooner than that.

“The board may try and make their decision prior to their April meeting if they can, but in the same way, they do want to make sure that they have all of the information they need. It's a decision that weighs very heavy on them because of the importance of that in terms of the school experience for under 100 students, which is a significant number of students and for the community as well.”

She said the decision will be based on what is best for learning and the well-being of students as well as teachers and staff.

“I think the way that everyone is approaching it (that way) and having some open dialogue is really appreciated by the division and the board.” Top Stories

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