Education
Yellowknife

YK1’s final Sissons relocation plan drops Range Lake switch


The YK1 school district on Wednesday evening published its final relocation plan for students of the soon-to-be-demolished École JH Sissons, which is to be rebuilt over the next two years.

The school district has spent a year fine-tuning the plan, which seeks to find space for more than 300 students among YK1’s other schools during the two years required to build a new Sissons facility.

Wednesday’s final plan does away with the need for some students to spend time at Range Lake North School. All relocated students will instead be housed at École William McDonald Middle School.

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In turn, all Grade 8 students from William McDonald will move to École Sir John Franklin High School for the duration of construction.

A draft plan in October had sent junior kindergarten and some kindergarten students from JH Sissons to Range Lake North School over the two-year period.

Now, YK1 says adding portable classrooms will give William McDonald the space to accommodate hundreds of extra students.

William McDonald currently has 248 students, the district said. That will increase to 500 students in 2020-21 and 521 in 2021-22.

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“With the addition of portables, there will be sufficient space to house all Junior Kindergarten to Grade 5 École JH Sissons students together at École William McDonald Middle School,” YK1 said in a statement.

‘The best option’

In a message to parents, YK1 superintendent Metro Huculak – who will retire next summer, just as the old Sissons building is torn down – said keeping all students together in a move to William McDonald was the best the district could do.

“We have looked at numerous options, and we have heard all of your insights and concerns,” Huculak wrote.

“We believe we’ve come up with the best option, given your feedback, classroom sizes, enrolments, and program commitments.”

Huculak said the NWT government’s Department of Education, Culture, and Employment had “committed to some infrastructure modifications, like expanding and rerouting drop-off areas and parking lots” – an issue raised by parents in October – in order to help smooth the transition.

YK1 expects construction work to take two academic years, with JH Sissons reopening in the fall of 2022.

The Department of Infrastructure has in the past said if construction takes longer than expected, students may end up moving into the new school in phases as areas are completed.

As of the last academic year, JH Sissons in current form was reported to be operating at 109 percent of its planned capacity.

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