Under the board's plan, the current Espanola High School would be put in the same building as the elementary school. (Google)

Parents in Espanola are reacting with surprise and uncertainty over a recommendation to combine their local elementary school with a high school.

That plan was proposed earlier this week at a Rainbow District School Board meeting.

It would create one school for junior kindergarten to grade 12 students by 2014.

By that time, Warren Tilston will have four children attending elementary school in Espanola.

"Junior kindergarten kids in with 17-year-olds, obviously protocols need to be set-up, like this isn't something that can just be determined by a recommendation. We're a long way away from the end of this one," Tilston said Wednesday.

Norm Blaseg

The board's director of education, Norm Blaseg, says the two schools would be separated by doors. (Supplied)

Rainbow board's director of education, Norm Blaseg, said renovations would be made to keep elementary and high school students separate.

"We will definitely have an A. B. Ellis [public school] site, [junior kindergarten to Grade 8], separated by doors, and then we will continue to have the Espanola High School site. The schools should run as separate entities," Blaseg said.

The plan for the combined school hangs on a capital-funding request to the ministry of education, which should be determined by the end of August, he said.

The Rainbow board will be holding a consultation session in September for parents to voice their opinions.

Tilston thinks it will be a tough sell.

"Either it will be a difficult thing to convince people [of], or it will be probably dissatisfied customers when they impose it," he said.