New Catchment Area Approved for Juniper Ridge and Marion Schilling Elementary Schools

Posted On Tuesday July 06, 2021

The Kamloops-Thompson Board of Education agreed to redefine the catchment boundaries of Juniper Ridge and Marion Schilling Elementary Schools for September 2022 and create a catchment area for Ralph Bell Elementary School.

The new Ralph Bell Elementary catchment includes Juniper West, west of Galore Drive, including future development areas in Juniper West, the Trail Side development in Juniper West, and the area west of Vicars Road, Rose Hill, and Sun Rivers. This catchment change eases the enrolment pressure at Juniper Ridge Elementary and Marion Schilling Elementary, and provides for balanced operational capacity at all three schools. (see map of new catchment area here)

 “In voting to re-open Ralph Bell as a K-7 school the Board has the opportunity to alleviate overcrowding in two of our southeast sector schools,” said Board Chair Rhonda Kershaw. “We look forward to working with the community to create a neighbourhood school that serves the needs of students into the future, and furthering discussions with our partners at the municipal and provincial level on how we can best address capacity constraints throughout the city.”

In addition to the initial recommendations made by staff on April 12, 2021, the Board has responded to several concerns brought forward by parents in the extensive 60-day consultation including grandfathering the students now entering grade 6, and their siblings, in their present schools to complete their grade 7 year.

The Board also recommended that staff discuss the possibility of moving school staff from Juniper Ridge Elementary and Marion Schilling Elementary to Ralph Bell Elementary with the Kamloops Thompson Teachers’ Association, and refine and implement the plan for transitioning students from Juniper Ridge Elementary and Marion Schilling Elementary to Ralph Bell Elementary.

The public consultation garnered many suggestions to turn Ralph Bell into a grade 6 and 7 school or a grade 5, 6, and 7 school.  Art McDonald, Director of Facilities provided data detailing how the proposed configuration relieved the enrolment pressure on Juniper Ridge and Marion Schilling and but made Ralph Bell the most overcrowded school in east Kamloops.

“We believe, what is best for students educationally at this age is to form strong social connections to peers and teachers through a full k-7 program that will ease their move into high school,” said Superintendent Terry Sullivan. “Standalone grade 6/7 cohort students would lose the opportunity to mentor younger students and develop the confidence that will assist them in making the transition to high school. Staff believe that configuring Ralph Bell Elementary as a K to 7 school is the preferred configuration from an educational perspective.”

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