FFSD proposes making Ruth Betts K-3, McIsaac 4-8, changing dismissals and in-school programming

The Flin Flon School Division (FFSD) has proposed radical changes for Flin Flon schools, proposing to change Ruth Betts Community School to a K-3 school and make Ecole McIsaac School to a Grades 4-8 school and altering dismissal times and busing, among other changes.

The division announced the proposed changes to staff and faculty members Feb. 11 before making the proposal public Feb. 12.  If the changes are approved, they would be permanently in place as of the start of the 2021-22 school year.

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"Following our strategic plan, academic success, student engagement and mental wellness played a huge role in our discussions," reads a description in the initial FFSD release.

Under the new proposal, Flin Flon's two Kindergarten-Grade 8 schools would be split up, with all Kindergarten-Grade 3 students going to class at Ruth Betts and all Grade 4-8 students attending class at McIsaac. Both schools would be dual track schools, allowing for both English and French Immersion instruction - in the past, dual track learning was only available at McIsaac.

The proposal also includes changes to school dismissal times, with class dismissal moved from 4 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

None of the proposed changes impact Hapnot Collegiate or Many Faces Education Centre.

One big change would seen at lunch time - all Grades 1-8 students would be supervised at lunch hour at no cost to parents or guardians. Currently, families pay for their children to be supervised over lunch hour at FFSD schools. Students and staff will continue to have one-hour lunch breaks, while the division would discontinue busing students over lunch hour.

On the subject of busing, as part of the new proposal, all K-8 students would be bused to their new school if they live more than 1.6 kilometres away. This would mean K-3 students living in uptown Flin Flon would not be able to be bused to Ruth Betts, while Grades 4-8 students in most of east Flin Flon would not be bused to McIsaac.

The division states that student supports, including recovery learning, mental wellness and specialized programming at both schools, would be available if the proposal passes, also stating that the change in school responsibilities will allow the schools to better serve student needs. Staff professional development will be targeted more towards teachers and grade levels at the two different schools.

The FFSD plans to host a pair of virtual town hall meetings about the proposed changes, with the first Feb. 18 at 6:30 p.m. and a second Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m. Links can be found on the FFSD website at ffsd.mb.ca. In addition to the town hall meetings, the FFSD will have a public survey for parents to share thoughts on the changes from Feb. 19-28, also on the FFSD site.

In the public release, the FFSD announced that the changes - in the opinion of the board of trustees - would mean less mixing of elementary and middle years students and "greater opportunity for programming and extra curricular" activities.

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