The debate on how to best provide education to the public schools has begun at School District 52, as local trustees attempt to get a handle on whether closing a school or schools will in the end make for a better educational system in the city.
The debate over school closures has been a hot button issue in town for a couple of years now as the city’s population declined, so did the population of many of the city’s public schools. That combined with an aging infrastructure has left the board and its trustees with a few decisions to make.
The Daily News provided coverage of the debate in the Tuesday edition of the paper.
BOARD BEGINS PROCESS TO EXAMINE SCHOOL CLOSURES
Board chair believes it could improve delivery of education
By James Vassallo
The Daily News
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
A month after balking, school board trustees will begin the process of looking at their aging and under-occupied facilities. The result of the forthcoming public consultation – which will focus on Conrad Street, Kanata and Seal Cove elementary = could lead to the closure of one or more local schools.
“(I want to) proceed with the original recommendation but I’d like to get a facilitator involved and have that facilitator be a part of the initial three school (examination),” said Trustee Bart Kuntz, who brought the issue back to the table. “I think a strategic plan for a two to five year period should be looked at. I’d like to start with the Eastside, hear what they’ve got to say but by no means is the Eastside where it ends.”
The school district had passed a motion that staff develop a plan to improve the education of students and obtain new facilities, however a number of trustees had rejected the next step in the equation which would see the board gather public input. Only trustees Barry McDonald and Tina Last were ready to move forward after the board announced what schools may be on the chopping block.
“We started this and we’ve told the community that we are serious about looking at our facilities and trying to provide the best education that we can for the district’s students,” said Tina Last, board chair, as trustees considered voting on the issue again.
“If that means trying to reduce three grad splits because of where we put (students) then we have to have that conversation.
“We’re not locking ourselves into closing one school, two schools or anything, but we’re starting to have a conversation which is important.”
Trustee Brian Johnson, who was not in attendance last month when district staff provide the pro-educational rationale for considering closing a school, was the lone board member to vote against now beginning the process.
Were the board to end up closing one of the fist batch of schools, they intend to look at, they were provided a glimpse as to how students could be distributed.
If Seal Cove were closed around 30 students, who mainly live south of Eight Avenue East, would go to Conrad, while 30 or so students who live near 11th Avenue East would go to Kanata.
If Conrad Street were closed 23 students who attend the school from around the district would go to Lax Kxeen, while 42 and 57 students, who mainly live in and around Hays Cove Avenue, would go to Kanata and Seal Cove, respectively. Students who are currently brought in from Metlakatla that attend the school could be placed anywhere.
Lastly, if Kanata were closed 50 students who live north of Eighth Avenue east and east of Frederick Street would go to Seal Cove, while 50 students between Portage Road and Frederick would go to Conrad and 20 students in the Cormorant Road area would go to Lax Kxeen.