The North East School Division (NESD) board has passed a motion initiating a school viability review process for the potential closure or grade discontinuance at Gronlid Central School.
According to the division, the K to 8 Gronlid Central School has been sustained with reduced staffing. Students have been allowed to attend outside of the attendance area with transportation for academic and family circumstances.
Under board policy, a school’s viability may be reviewed if the projected enrollment for a kindergarten to Grade 8 school is less than 51 pupils.
The NESD projections for enrollment by Sept. 15, 2021 placed Gronlid Central School with 29 students. Actual numbers were lower.
By Sept. 15, the school only had 18 students enrolled. Among those were two Grade 1 students, five Grade 2 students, three Grade 3 students, four Grade 4 students, one Grade 5 student, two Grade 6 students and one Grade 7 student. There were no Grade 8 student enrollments.
Marla Walton, NESD’s board chair, said the decision to review the location is due to the student population.
“It has declining enrollment numbers,” Walton said.
“As the school division and the board, we’re open to listening. We’re open to having very open and frank conversations.”
The Gronlid School Community Council (SCC), made up of elected and appointed volunteer parents and community members, have been informed of the process and will continue to remain in communication with the NESD.
The SCC will have the opportunity to close the school on their own or provide consent to the board to move forward with a closure of the school.
If chosen, closure would not be enacted until after the current school year.
“It’s a difficult time for communities when they face the potential of their school closing,” Walton said. “It’s also a very difficult time for the board. We take those decisions very seriously, we take all factors into consideration. We’re open to listening to the public, to the parents, all of the stakeholders. This is not a decision we take lightly at all.”
The NESD previously cut back grades for Gronlid Central. In the 2017-18 school year, the school went from a K to 12 school to a K to 8 School.
While not being reviewed at this time, opening enrollments indicate that both Bjorkdale and Star City schools have less than the threshold for their respective grade numbers.
Jessica R. Durling, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Humboldt Journal