WINNIPEG – A school in Charleswood that has welcomed students for more than a century is closing.
Only 51 elementary students attend Chapman School this year. And their parents asked the division if they could go to Royal School next year instead.
Closing a school requires provincial approval – and the new government gave permission Thursday.
Superintendent Ted Fransen says the reason for the closure – the population in the area is aging.
“There are fewer and fewer new students and new families and so the enrolment at Chapman, as has happened in many Charleswood schools, declined over time,” he said.
Fransen says closing the school will save the division about $450,000 next year.
“Those savings will go back into the school division budget and reduce the tax burden on the taxpayers across the division in the coming school year,” he said.
Education Minister Ian Wishart says he signed off on the closure because of the declining enrolment and because the division accommodated students elsewhere to the satisfaction of the parents.
But he says they’re not setting a precedent with the decision.
The NDP government took away school divisions’ authority to close schools almost a decade ago.
Wishart says they’re not changing that, but will consider closures on a case-by-case basis.
“We certainly have to look at each individual one. This is not a precedent-setting case in our minds. It’s a one-off and at this point we’re not prepared to start re-establishing different precedents. We’ll look at them as one-offs,” he said.
The day care operating on the Chapman school site will stay open next year. Westgate Mennonite Collegiate is leasing the building next year while they renovate.
What happens after that is unclear, but Fransen says there are some provincial requirements they will have to follow.
A celebration of the school’s legacy in the community will be held next Friday from 2-6 pm, with a short program at 4 pm.
(Photo from Pembina Trails School Division website)