By Cole Parkinson
A few new changes to Horizon School Division schools are coming next school year.
During Horizon school board’s regular meeting on April 27, board members discussed changes to two of the division’s schools that would be coming in the 2020-2021 school year.
The first change was upgrading Taber Christian School to a high school.
“The establishment of a Christian high school would meet parent requests to be able to access Christian education-based programming within Horizon from K-12,” said Blair Lowry, board member.
It was explained to the board that making TCS a high school had been a constant request from students and parents.
“There has been an ongoing discussion in regard to that community, what they are hoping to do is transition. They were hoping to transition their current Grade 9s into Grade 10s. Then, the following year move up into another grade so it becomes a 10 and 11. The following year it will become 10, 11 and 12. It will continue on to 12 that way,” explained Wilco Tymensen, superintendent of schools. “I think it will impact high school completion as well because a number of their kids in Grade 9 don’t necessarily continue on with schooling within Horizon. Certainly, it will allow them to continue that Christian programming and it will also allow them to achieve a high school diploma, which they all don’t necessarily get. The support from the parents has certainly been an influence in terms of this request.”
A question from the board around how many students were within the school was brought forward.
“At this point, I think they have 25 or 30 kids in Grade 9. They have at least 20 of the parents that want them to come back next year. So we’re probably talking 20 or 25 next year. By the time it is all said and done, the lower grades are larger so they may have 40 kids in a grade. It could be a school of around 100 or 110 kids,” answered Tymensen.
A motion that the board approves Taber Christian High School commencing 2020-2021 school year was carried unanimously.
The other school that will be seeing a change in 2020-2021 is Taber Mennonite School.
A motion to transfer Grade 6-8 TMS students to D.A. Ferguson Middle School and to transfer Grade 9-12 TMS student to W.R. Myers High School effective August 2020 was made.
“This actually was initiated by parents probably two years ago. The success of the Taber Mennonite School was such that they were reaching capacity at their current location,” stated Tymensen. “In dialogue and discussion with parents, they talked about moving into the D.A./Myers complex and maintaining their program within that complex. A lot of the high school kids were already tapping into that school just because of the capacity issues as well to tap into some other programs. We were unable to move forward with that because D.A.was under modernization and of course that modernization is coming to an end here in the next few weeks. The Taber Mennonite School will be located within the two-storey portion of the D.A./Myers complex. Because it is already within that complex, we don’t need to use the separate school code anymore because it is not on a separate location, hence the closure of that school code. The students would still have the same staff as they are being transferred as well to that new location.”
The ability for student’s to be able to continue with Mennonite-based learning in a suitable location was key for the division.
“The opportunity for parents and students to access the cultural appropriate programs, that desire of the families will continue. We will continue to work in cooperation with parents to fulfil the educational programming they are hoping for their kids to have,” added Tymensen.
The motion was carried unanimously by the board.