Recent History – 2004-2006
By Gary Rusak
With the March 16 deadline fast approaching, Rolla Elementary School Parent’s Advisory Committee has started the official registration drive in the hopes of making its traditional school proposal a reality. School District 59 has stipulated that the PAC must have 50 full time equivalent students enrolled by the deadline or the school will be shut down at the end of June. The school currently has 34 full time students.
“It was a shock when this decision was handed to us in December that we had a March 16th deadline,” said Debbie Pavlis, one of the driving forces behind the plan. “It was given to us in the middle of December and with the holidays December is pretty much a write-off. So we have January, February and part of March.”
The decision to close Rolla Elementary School was made in November 2003. The school board cited excess space in the district as the reason for the decision. After a grassroots effort, the Rolla PAC proposed that the rural school be transformed into a traditional school to bolster enrollment.
According to the group, a traditional school is defined as “a fully funded public school of choice that uses the complete B.C. curriculum and education standards while incorporating traditional values, clearly defined standards of behaviour, high academic standards, teacher directed education and a dress code”.
Last spring, the school board made the decision to keep the school open for the 2004-05 year to allow them further consideration of the traditional school proposal. In December, the board accepted the proposal with the 50-student stipulation. Pavlis said that the registration drive was slow getting off the ground in part because of the school board.
“Everything that we have had to put forward, like our advertising and registration forms, we have had to send for approval first,” she said. “Now, we’re going to plaster every area in Dawson Creek with the fact that we are up and going and we are taking registration. We are contacting families within our area that we heard have moved in. We are targeting them right now.”
The group will also be holding a public information session at O’Brien Educational Centre on Wednesday, Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m. for those who might be considering the traditional school option.
“Anyone that wants information should come find out about it,” said Deanne Stratuliak, a member of the PAC. “Because if they don’t register their students there will be no school.”
Despite the tight timeline, both Pavlis and Stratuliak remain optimistic that the school will meet the board’s demand. “We’re hopeful,” said Stratuliak.