Recent History – 2004-2006
April 30, 2004, By Gary Rusak, Daily News Staff
The Rolla Parents’ Association, as part of its continuing efforts to transform Rolla Elementary into a traditional school, brought education expert Dr. Daniel J. Brown to Dawson Creek last night to host an information session on the concept.
“I think of (traditional schools) as having three main characteristics,” said Brown, an education studies professor at the University of British Columbia, on Wednesday afternoon. “One is teaching and learning in a highly structured environment, second there is a high level of student care and the third dimension is a lot of parental involvement.”
In the wake of School District 59’s decision to close the rural school in June 2005 because of low enrolment, the community has rallied around the idea that a traditional curriculum would be just the thing to save the school.
“That is a common phenomenon,” said Brown. “When you have a small school that is threatened with closure, the parents look around and discover that the traditional option has a lot of potential. One reason that it does is because virtually in all traditional schools their enrolment is increasing.”
Currently there are fewer than 10 traditional schools in the province, but Brown said that many of them are so popular that parents line up for a week just to have the opportunity to enrol in one.
“We expect that there will be more of them and they will grow,” he said. “They will also attract parents from other choice schools like private schools and home schools. They have the opportunity of reducing some of the enrolment decline in public education.”
About 30 interested parents attended the session last night at Northern Lights College. Many asked specific questions about what to expect from a traditional curriculum.
Jesse Petersen, a mother of three, said that she was looking forward to enrolling her children in a traditional school.
“We live in the Rolla community and we want to keep the school going,” she said. “Most people I have talked to are excited about it.”
The official proposal to turn Rolla Elementary into a traditional school is expected to be tabled to the school board before their next meeting in mid-May. The proposal will target the 2004/2005 school year as a transitional year with a full traditional curriculum set for the following year.
Debbie Pavlis, a Rolla parent who has spearheaded the movement, said that she is hopeful that the idea will increase enrolment enough to keep the school open.
“There is a lot of support verbally,” she said. “Hopefully those people, when the crunch comes, will show more of an interest.”
The final decision rests in the hands of the board as a majority of trustees must approve the move. The trustees also have the power to put any conditions on the project that they see fit.