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 - 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?