March 16, 2017 11:55 pm
Updated: March 17, 2017 7:09 pm

Elk Island Public Schools trustees vote in favour of closing Ministik School

Parents put up a "Save Ministik" sign at Ministik School in rural Strathcona County. Feb. 7, 2017.

Global News
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It was a proposition that faced fierce opposition from parents and students but on Thursday, Elk Island Public Schools (EIPS) said its trustees voted in favour of closing Ministik School in Strathcona County.

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On its website, the board said plans were being made to close the Alberta school at the end of the school year, on June 30. Trustees passed a motion to “re-designate Ministik School students, including those registered for kindergarten, to Fultonvale Elementary Junior High for the 2017-2018 school year.”

“It’s one of the most difficult decisions that a board can make but it is one that we needed to do,” said Trina Boymook, board chair of the Elk Island School Board of Trustees.

The board said the decision to close the school was a combination of factors, including “budget funding allocations and fiduciary responsibilities, the overall condition of the facility, costs required to both maintain and operate the facility, the proximity of a school within 16 kilometres and capacity to accommodate additional students, long-term capital plans and programming available throughout the division.”

“We’ve used our reserves up to this point to carry us but we are at that point, that critical point, where we can’t continue to rely on reserves to offset some of our deficit and so we had to make some very difficult decisions,” Boymook said. This is one of them.”

In February, Elk Island Schools superintendent Mark Liguori said the school had outlived its lifespan and has issues with mould and mildew. He also said lead pipes have caused problems for the school’s water supply.

Liguori also said in 2015 the school board expended $1.7 million more than it brought in from the province.

“The board carefully reviewed a significant body of data submitted by EIPS administration and feedback provided by the community before tendering its decision,” the board said in a statement on its website. “EIPS is committed to working closely with students and their families to ensure the transition to the new school is handled smoothly.”

The board of trustees first put forward a motion in mid-December to consider the possible closure of Ministik School but faced stiff opposition from parents of students at the school.

READ MORE: Alberta school on verge of being shut down despite growing attendance

Watch below: On Feb. 7, 2017, Quinn Ohler filed this report about the fight to save Ministik School.

The school division hosted meetings with parents about the motion at which many parents spoke passionately about their wish to keep the school open.

“From an educational standpoint, this school is everything to my family,” Sam Hofmeyer, a father of a Grade 1 student at the school, said in February. “My wife and I moved out here 10 years ago for the specific reason that this small school with such a fantastic reputation was here.”

Parents even went so far as to create a website as part of their effort to save the school.

“We have a community that’s passionate,” Liguori acknowledged. “They want a school in their community, they feel that it is a viable school that serves the community well and they don’t want to see it go.”

Ministik Elementary has approximately 128 students and according to parents Global News spoke with, the school’s attendance has been growing. The school was founded in the early 1900s and the current building was constructed in 1951.

Boymook said the school board will work with the school council, parents and staff to ensure kids are prepared for the transition.

With files from Quinn Ohler.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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