ELK POINT - About a year and a half after voting to close the Elk Point Outreach School (EPOS), the St. Paul Education board of trustees has postponed a decision regarding the closure of the school.
The decision means the outreach school will continue to operate as-is from its current location at 4902-51 Street in Elk Point. In May of 2020, the division took the first steps to close EPOS and Horizon Outreach School, located in St. Paul, permanently. But feedback from the community resulted in EPOS keeping its doors open, and the board halting its decision as the COVID-19 pandemic continued on.
The Horizon Outreach School was however closed, with students being dispersed into other schools in the division.
In the spring of 2020, Superintendent Glen Brodziak recommended the closure of the schools due to funding changes and low enrolment. In the past, the provincial government gave $62,000 per outreach site. With a new funding formula, provincial funding was set at $150,000, regardless of how many outreach sites are being funded by the school division.
A stakeholder meeting was then held, with a number of community members voicing concern over the closure of EPOS. The board then decided to keep the school open for two years at its current location.
The most recent decision on Oct. 13 came just days ahead of the school board election, set for Oct. 18.
Trustee Lorne Young, who has been overseeing the Elk Point region for the past term and was seeking re-election, thanked the board on Wednesday for reconsidering the closure of the school. He said he appreciated the school division's openness to the topic, and voiced his support to keep the school at its current location.
During discussions, it was noted that no one expected the COVID-19 pandemic to continue on for as long as it has, which has played a part in the decision making process.
"The pandemic does seem to have its ripple effects," said board chair Heather Starosielski.
A recommendation to review the situation in a couple of years was put forward, to which Young said he had no problem with. He noted that if circumstances change, administration would be tasked with looking at the situation, regardless.
Trustees passed a motion to postpone the relocation of EPOS with a review of the decision scheduled for the 2023/24 school year.
As of Sept. 30, there are 12 students enrolled at EPOS.