Town hall meeting on schools

I attended the town hall meeting tonight.  (As did Mig, who impressively contributed to photographic journalism on another thread almost simultaneously!).  Anyway, the subject was reconfiguration of the school district.  Powerpoint happened, questions were asked, and a rather spirited discussion ensued.  I make no attempt to summarize in detail.  However, I was struck by three aspects of the meeting:

  First, there was a clear push for acceptance of closing PRSS, and putting a middle (Grades 6 - 8) there, and we have to decide now, not six months from now, and clearly not after a full public consultation process.  The push seemed to come from management rather than the board itself, (although that might represent naivete rather than realpolitik).  Tina Last denied that, but then said that the current model wasn’t the best we could deliver, so we should consider something else now. Should we?

Second, the general tone of responding questions and comments from the public was clearly concerned with either the idea itself, or the apparent rush to make a very big decision.  So there was a disconnect between the idea, and the opinion of the members of the public (including many employees) that attended (maybe 150 people).

Third, the subplot, and to my mind the “elephant in the room”, which makes absolutely clear that if in fact we go to a middle school, then 2 or 3 more elementary schools would then be closed, effectively ending the concept of a small, welcoming, and relevant neighbourhood school for our youngest children. 

In the interests of doing a small thing to prevent an uninformed (intentionally?) public from being sideswiped by a big decision, I offer the following quote from the presentation.  It outlines the “Next steps”, to be considered this Thursday (yes, in two days!!!), at an “open” board meeting.  If anyone wants to speak their mind, they must apply as a “delegation” by 4 p.m. Thursday.

“Decisions to be considered:
    - PRSS closure notice of consideration
    - Grade configuration
    - Opening a middle school
    - 5 year capital plan
    - School closure, notice of consideration.”

The last item doesn’t specify which schools, but must refer to elementary schools.

Does anyone else here feel, as I do, that this is a very big decision being made with only token public input???

Wouldn’t it be nice if the board deferred the decision(s) long enough to actually draw supportable conclusions on the weight of public opinion, AND the educational merits?

Yes a bit more open consultation might be beneficial, perhaps followed by a referendum of the citizens of the city.

I never thought of the prospect that by creating a middle school, they would then be free to close a number of elementary schools, which of course would take schools out of neighbourhoods and mean sending children further and further away from  home to go to school.

Now while we’re not a large city, for sure the concept of the neighbourhood school would be lost.

More importantly, considering that one of the new mandates of education is to be more inclusive to the neighbourhoods of a town or city, that would seem to be working against the future.

If the middle school concept would cause that much disruption to the elementary program then what beneift is it really providing?

Perhaps the status quo of K-7 may after all be the best option for this town, if for no other reason that to keep those schools relevant to their neighbourhoods and for the children that attend them.

It certainly is an issue that deserves more than two days of thought and the need to acquire delegation status to participate…


The smilie messes it up, but they are talking about grade 6 to what?

Reading at your summary of things, I must say that’s very disturbing.

I just don’t like the idea that PRSS will be done for good (aside from building issues), and a middle school added in the process minus the X number of elementary schools.

Kids shouldn’t be mass lectured as programmable herds of sheep.

I believe it’s grade 6 to disturbingly extreme insanity.  :evil:

Yeah the whole thing sounds like they just want to warehouse the kids in two or three schools, perhaps not the best way to foster a positive learning environment.

I think the SD is moving too fast with the school closures, the kids from the east side just got shuffled around, and I dont think they need anymore. 
I’m concerned that if SD52 gets their way and all these elementry schools close, kids a shuffled into schools at full capacity and empty lots are sold off…what if 5-10 years from now we do have a population boom…then what?? our elementry schools are full and parents are stuck homeschooling??

I’m ranting I know:)

And speaking of warehousing. Students that (we’re talking commodity here) passed the quality assurance are then individually packaged in popcorn-filled cardboard boxes, certificates are attached to the boxes, palletized and shrink-wrapped, and shipped to order.

Each students come with a 45 year warranty, dressed in standard graduation gowns, and hooked to a limited supply feeding and oxygen tanks to prevent product defects…

I’m not sure where the emoticons came from.  I didn’t include them in my comment.  Regardless, the middle school proposal is grades 6 - 8.

I should add that a child care worker made the impressive point that at present, we have as many as 12 IEP students in a room at a local grade 6/7 class.  Would it really be a good thing to take all those students, from all over the district, and pile them into a middle school, given the current government’s obsession with cutting costs?  And who among us really believes that the government is going to get more generous after the Olympic deficit becomes clear?

My opinion is that if we do all this, we will have been good little peons, and picked on our own children to provide the government with a two week advertisement for it’s own corporate contributors.

The trustees are simply caught in the middle.  i hope they know it.

The concept of a middle school is one that deserves a great deal of thought and research.  It might very well be an improvement.  It very well may not.  I have no answer to that question.  What did concern me was the fact that it was made clear that 2-3 schools will be closed no matter what model we choose.

By going to the middle school option the excuse to close those schools becomes much easier.  Port Ed is clinging by its fingernails.  Take out the grade 6 and 7 students and the school is no longer viable.  Do the same to Westview and much the same occurs.  

I want the debate about school closure to be about closing schools.  I want the debate about middle schools to be about the advantages of that concept.  I don’t want those topics blurred.  

My thoughts exactly.

Out of curiosity, I was under the impression that PRSS would eventually have to be demolished and be rebuilt because of the issues with the building–or at least a long closure/reno process–regardless of its role. Is that not the case anymore?

Thanks for reporting this, teacher.  I too find this rush to push through such monumental changes to our educational system disturbing.

An interesting read on this topicis the final Matrix report (April 09) that clearly recommends keeping the current ‘traditional’ K - 7 and 8 - 12 school model.  Interestingly when it comes to the financial aspect the report estimates that it would only cost about 10 million to put an addition to CHSS and have it as the only highschool, then close PRSS and upgrade all the schools to "like new"
That’s after selling the PRSS property
Please find the report attached.

Unfortunately, I had to leave because of other commitments.  If I didn’t, I would have videotaped the entire thing for YouTube.  Then we could watch the school board meeting online, with the Benny Hill music playing.  Maybe we could even edit in a clip of a skateboarding dog to lighten things up.

Sad to see the powerpoint style, though, especially from educators.  Powerpoint is the modern version of the guy in front of the class lecturing, except more rigid and one-way.  I hope there was a more fluid Q&A session that followed.

I didn’t attend last nights meeting but plan on Thursday’s meeting for sure. That 6/7 with 12 IDP kids in it, is my kids class I think. And let me tell you it is INSANE! I know that my son and others have learnt absolutely NOTHING from the teacher who is so overwhelmed that he/she can’t get control of the class. This is not an exageration and I am quite sure that given we shoved 2 schools into 2 other schools and I mean shoved! That the plan is to have even less schools. I don’t like to see PRSS close, but I don’t think that there is the population for 2 high schools, but on the other hand I am not sure if a middle school is a good idea either.  I know that the class my son is in there is no room to think it is so cramped.  I understand the money side of things, but really I often wonder how a child who is IDP from K-5 can suddenly not require any assistance when he hits grade 6?  I said last year that if my child was one of the kids needing assistance I would be kay yahing to one and all. This class ( I have no other to compare to except in a past school not in the SD 52) is a joke, the principal whom I have tried to work with is a JOKE I was called and asked what I thought the best solution to a certain problem was … ( ie bring in all the parents of the kids that were in trouble and discuss with everyone about behaviour etc 9 kids  3 parents showed up!) Is it a lack of parent involvement as well as a govt who doesn’t care one way or the other … We all need to show up tomorrow … email all your friends and neighbours in your HOOD and get the word out. Do we need to register by 4pm tomorrow if we are attending or only if we are speaking?

Registration is for those groups or individuals who wish to speak.  The rest of the meeting will be to listen to the board’s discussion.  I think a large audience paying attention to that discussion can have an impact.

What are the rules governing videotaping the meetings?  Anybody know?

Moderators is there anyway to send a notice out to all the HTMF members to advise of this meeting tomorrow night? I am sending a note to all my peeps and will tyr to post on facebook as well.

The more people the better I would think !

Maybe just start a new topic about the meeting tomorrow night.  There’s not really a way to send a message to everyone, and we really wouldn’t want to do that.  Not everyone on HTMF is in Prince Rupert, either.

Thanks Mig,  just throwing it out there :smile: