Consolidation and review coming for Rivier

Students at Blessed Marie Rivier Catholic School will be making the transition to St. Mary High School next fall. The Prince Albert Catholic School division has decided to consolidate the two schools due to poor enrolment numbers at Rivier. -- Herald file photo.

A year after joining the Prince Albert Catholic School Division, more changes are coming to Blessed Marie Rivier.

In May, the division board decided to consolidate Grade 9-12 students at Rivier with nearby St. Mary High School, effective at the beginning of the 2017-18 school year. Grade 7-8 students will also make the move to St. Mary, although they’ll continue to function as a different school for at least one year.

Lorel Trumier, the Prince Albert Catholic School Division’s director of education, said the school’s already small enrolment was in decline, which made it too costly to continue operating under the current system.

“The two aspects of that together, make it very difficult and cost-prohibited to continue to operate Blessed Marie Rivier the way we have been,” she explained during an interview on Friday. “With low and declining (enrolment) … we had to determine how we could address the programing (needs).”

The change comes just one year after Rivier Academy joined the Catholic school division as Blessed Rivier Marie Catholic School.

Since that change, Trumier said they’ve seen a number of Blessed Marie Rivier students leave to enroll at St. Mary.

Roughly 30-35 Grade 7-8 students will remain in what Trumier called the “school within a school” that will continue operations. Another 30 students enrolled in Grade 9-12 for the next school year will join St. Mary

St. Mary principal Mark Phaneuf will oversee both schools. Trumier said they have had positive feedback from Rivier families making the move to St. Mary. Tours have been set up to help students get used to their new schools.

In the meantime, school division administrators and board members will conduct a review to determine whether the consolidation will become permanent.

“What the board would like to do is take the review process to discern the most affective way to address programming needs for students,” Trumier said. “Hopefully in the next six months they will have a decision made in terms of how that could look in the fall of 2018.”

Elements that will be under review include transportation, and the allocation of staffing and other resources.

“The board obviously, after very careful consideration, had to look at some operational changes,” she said.

Trumier added that not all of Rivier’s eight teachers and two support staff will make the move to St. Mary, but the won’t be cut loose either. All will be offered jobs with schools in the Catholic school division.

“We do have a need for every staff member, and all of them have been assured that they have a position within the school division.”

@kerr_jas •