REGINA – Just an hour’s drive south of Regina of highway six, the village of Pangman that is home to about 260 people is dealing with the possible closure or discontinuation of high school grades at its K to 12 school.
On Tuesday night the community meets with the Southeast Cornerstone School Division to make their case on keeping the school open, which serves 64 students.
“Just like any small town [the school] is our heart right,” Mayor Rod Rowland said.
Rowland grew up in Pangman and his four children have all attended Pangman School; two of which are currently in Grades 7 and 8.
Rowland is concerned about what the closure of the school would mean to the kids and new families in the area.
“There’s been people that moved in from out of province and what not, and those people that have moved into the area have been a big part of carrying forth what goes on here,” he said.
One of the new arrivals is Lori Wolstenholme. She and her family moved to Pangman two years ago because they wanted to live the small town life.
She said the school was a major factor in the decision to move to Pangman. Now she chairs the School Review Committee that is building the case to keep it open.
According to school division rules, a school needs 88 students to be considered viable, and Pangman School only has 64 right now.
However, Wolstenholme and her team of 8 surveyed the community and found that with the amount of young children in the village’s area the school will have 84 students in five years.
“They didn’t have that last time,” Wolstenholme said referring to the last time the school faced closure due to low enrollment in 2012.
“There was hope that there would be growth, but we’re seeing that there’s a lot of children that will be entering into the school system in the next five years.”
According to the Southeast Cornerstone School Division 2013/14 annual report they are responsible for 39 schools in 27 communities. If a closure is approved for Pangman School residents believe kids will be bused to either Ogema, Radville, or Yellowgrass.
People have until March 31 to submit written comments to the school board about Pangman School. The board will take written submissions and comments from the school review meeting on Tuesday night into consideration when they vote on the fate of the school next month.
If the school is closed there’s a great deal of worry about what it means for the community’s future.
“If you look along Highway 6, from Regina south, other than Milestone, every other community has had their school close,” RM of Norton Reeve Leon Van De Walle said.
“And every community that’s had its school close is on the verge of being a ghost town.”