Wednesday, January 21, 2009

They'll go for a retreat and then we'll all meet

The looming issues for education in School District 52 will receive a comprehensive look over during the next few weeks as local trustees get to work on the many challenges that face them over the remainder of the current school year.

With long range planning decisions to be made as far as elementary and secondary education in the district, the Board trustees will meet in retreat for three days starting on January 30th as they review the many options that have been provided for their consideration.

Among the more anticipated of decisions to come will be the status of Prince Rupert Secondary School, the possibility of introducing a middle school while closing a high school and a solution for the long running debate over the future of the Port Edward School.

Ahead on their agenda will be at least two town hall meetings to discuss with the community the future of education in the district, all designed to chart a path of action as they head towards the deadline of May 15 and the need to deliver a capital plan.

Tuesday's Daily News featured some of the background on the numerous issues that will soon reappear as points for debate at School District 52 meetings.

Trustees waste no time in learning the issues
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Page one

With the school year already half way through, the School District 52 Board of Education has set a tight agenda for the next four months.

Last week, the board adopted a long-range facilities plan timeline, which kicks into full gear at the end of this month when trustees will receive a final report from Matrix Planning. In addition to the observations and recommendations made in Matrix's preliminary report, the final report is expected to include the costs associated with undertaking anyone of the six scenarios William Wood outlined last month related to potential school closures.

The report will be delivered Jan. 30, along with the Final Phase 2 Feasibility Study of Prince Rupert Senior Secondary, both of which should give trustees a lot of discuss during their three-day Board Orientation and Retreat beginning that day.

Following the retreat, in the first week of February there will be a town, hall meeting to discuss the past, present and future of Port Edward Elementary School. The District of Port ""Edward administration and council will be invited to participate, along with school staff and members of the community. the meeting, stakeholders review the school closure presentation from last year, give an update of where each group stands today, and possibly project into the future by agreeing on a working plan to keep the school in the community of Port Edward.

Early February will also see a visit from Ministry of Education Capital Department representatives, news that Superintendent Eric Mercer said should be taken as optimistic since it may very well mean that the ministry has realized Prince Rupert's dire need for a new school structure. The board will also meet for the regular monthly open meeting on Feb. 10, where it will provide feedback on the final Matrix report, revisit the long-range facilities timeline and possibly discuss what discussions took place with the Ministry Capital Department

Last week, trustees also committed to seeking invitations to and attending as many school staff meetings as possible in the next two months to receive input and notify staff of upcoming public meetings, as well as meeting with SD52 maintenance staff to receive input regarding facilities.

Also ratified was a commitment to hold a public townhall meeting before March 10 to discuss the past, present and future of the school district with the community, the concept of adding a middle school to the district and to consult the public on the facility scenarios presented in the Matrix report.

Another public townhall meeting will then be scheduled for early April, where, similar to the school closure meetings last year, senior management will provide their recommendations for the new capital plan.

With a May 15 deadline for delivering the 2009-10 capital plan, trustees and senior management have a great deal of work to do in the coming months but given the resolve demonstrated by all at the regular January board meeting last week, it's clear that finding an agreeable and logical solution for Prince Rupert's schools is a priority for the district this year.

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