Abbotsford parents are fuming over a school board decision to remove Grade 6 and 7 classes from six rural elementary schools in the district.
Trustees voted unanimously this week to move Grade 6 and 7 students into middle schools starting in September, 2017.
Parents at the meeting booed, yelled and stormed out of the room when the ruling was made.
Some are now threatening to pull their children out of the district.
"My family has lived here for 30 years now and every relationship we have with this community is based around our experience at Bradner," says parent Ryan McAllister.
"We have a Mayday celebration here that attracts thousands of people every year and the Grade 6s and 7s are the cornerstone of that. The younger kids learn so much from them."
The change affects Bradford, Mt. Lehman, Ross, Upper Sumas, Barrowtown and Aberdeen Elementary Schools.
Stuck in the middle
Abbotsford School District Superintendent Kevin Godden says middle school plays a crucial role in the development of adolescents that isn't available in elementary school.
"One of the things you do at that level is provide as much opportunity for kids to be able to explore the curriculum and identify their strengths so that when they make the transition into high school, they can dig a little deeper and explore those areas of passion," Godden says.
"Part of the responsibility of the board is to consider not just the concerns and need of parents at one given school, but the 46 that we have within the district and the 20,000 students."
Parents like Tara MacDonell, whose children go to Mt. Lehman, say Grade 6 and 7 students won't get the opportunity to take on leadership roles at community events.
"Not only because they are old enough to help kids on rides, but those functions are where those kids get that first introduction to the community," she says.