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School board votes to close Midway Elementary

Boundary school trustees have unanimously agreed to close Midway Elementary School at the end of June and transfer its students to Greenwood Elementary.

“There is never a right time for something like this to happen,” said trustee Mark Danyluk, who represents Midway. “It is awful. Change is never easy. But I have to go with my conviction that I am there for the children.”

Presently 31 students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 attend school in Midway. Greenwood currently has Grades 4 to 7 but will be reconfigured as a K-7. The two schools share a principal and support staff, which trustees agreed is a concern in terms of watching out for vulnerable students.

“Change is necessary even if it’s difficult,” trustee Katie Jepsen said. “Being a leader requires making hard decisions. These decisions must always be viewed through the lens of what is best for the overall mission, the vision and direction of any organization.”

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Jepsen said while Midway Elementary has been described as the heart of the community, the building could be used for other purposes to maintain that status. Alternatively, “I encourage Midway to wrap their arms around Boundary Central [Secondary]. Make that the heartbeat.”

Board chair Rose Zitko said the closure was “by far the hardest decision” that she has made in her decade as a trustee. “This decision has to be based on the best education for all students,” she said, adding that it is not financial but educational.

Trustee Bronwen Bird suggested students be asked to pick a new name for Greenwood Elementary to reflect its status as an amalgamated school.

However, Midway residents have strongly protested the school’s closure, which follows a consultation process that began in mid-December.

Midway Elementary was originally built in 1948 and was enlarged in 1978 with the addition of a gym and library. Although it has had a variety of configurations, it has been a K-3 for more than a decade.

A backgrounder prepared by the district says staff retention at Midway has been a problem. The district says of the 31 current students, 22 live in Greenwood and the other nine in Midway.

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