Friday, June 19, 2009

Podunk Below the Masthead, Thursday, June 18, 2009

The future of education in Prince Rupert up for discussion, a family mourns a loss and Acropolis Manor looks to expand it's daycare options, some of the items from Thursday's Daily News.

FUTURE OF PRSS FIRES UP TOWN HALL MEETING AT CHARLES HAYS-- With the clock ticking on the need for a decision on the future of grad configuration, parents, teachers, administrators and School Board officials all gathered at Charles Hays on Tuesday for a Town Hall meeting. The Daily news provided some background on Tuesday's events (see story below)

Family members of Ashley Coveyduck shared their thoughts and remembrances on her life in Thursday's paper, part of the review by the Daily News into the circumstances of last weeks highway 16 accident which saw the vehicle she was in go into the Skeena River. Her body has yet to be recovered due to the dangerous levels of the Skeena over the last week, further attempts at recovery will take place once the river levels become more stable.

The new Acropolis Manor may not be open yet, but administrators and staff are busy making plans to add on to the services that the seniors care facility provides once it does open its door. One aspect of the services provided is Adult Day care, and that is slated for an upgrade, where Seniors will be able to drop in to use the kitchen facilities, large tub in the bathing room and a social activity area.

The Sports page featured a look at a group of adventurers setting off to explore the Northwest passage by sailboat, the group had stopped in Prince Rupert over the weekend before continuing their quest to the North.

Total pages in the Thursday edition (14)

Front page, headline story:

By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Pages one and five

Rupertites debate middle school proposition at a heated meeting Tuesday night at Charles Hays

School District 52 will make its final decision on grade configuration tonight in the Charles Hays Multi-purpose Room.

In the same room Tuesday night, parents, teachers, school administration, school support staff and school board members voiced their opinions on potentially converting one of the community's schools into a middle school, which district acting superintendent Dave Stigant was careful to say would not be the same as a junior high or a mini high school.

The school board has a short time frame to make decisions. Trustees and district staff need to have the five-year capital plan for facilities in to the ministry of education by Friday.

"If we don't have it in then basically what we are saying is that our schools are fine. I don't think with the conditions of our schools we should be saying that," Stigant told the nearly full room.

Patience might no longer be an option. But there were options tabled at the meeting, creating mixed reviews from those in attendance. Some in attendance believed that a middle school would benefit the community and students while others wondered where the school district would get the money to do the change over, if indeed the school district went ahead with the decisions.

There were even some who felt that the school board had already made the decision to go ahead with the middle school option.

"I will state categorically that we have not made any decisions towards our grade configuration," said board chair Tina Last. "This is the first time we have seen the reports just like you."

What Prince Rupert is facing is declining enrollment, serious upgrading needed for schools and budget constraints. The closing of Kanata and Seal Cove elementary schools last year saved the district $1.5 million, which secretary treasurer Kim Morris said was just enough to deliver needed programs for schools this year and next.

However, the school district has already been granted $8 million in funding for seismic upgrades towards Prince Rupert Secondary School. That money. said Stigant could be redirected towards the construction of a new middle school; if that's the way the board chose to go by leveraging the ministry of education.

Town Hall participants were also given the opportunity to hear what some of the pros and cons are with regards to creating a middle school in the community.

According to research done by both the school district and, there are pros and cons to a community education plant that includes a middle school.

Middle schools deliver different teaching systems, which need to be delivered by teachers with separate qualifications.

That could mean more training for current staff or new hiring policies for the school district.

The benefits could outweigh the negatives, however. For many in the audience, having the opportunity to have grade seven- and eight-aged children remain amongst younger students slowing down the maturing process.

"It would also allow grade eights to take on leadership roles in their school system, which isn't currently available for them under the current (secondary grade 8-12) model,' said Stigant.

Prince Rupert Senior Secondary School principal Sheila Wells asked why children had not been surveyed before any proposal was put forward. Students in transition were not surveyed by the school district.

"We do have to look at schools and the transition from elementary to high school," said Wells.

It is possible PRSS school would be the facility that is turned over into a middle school, which prompted a parent in the audience to ask why the district had not considered Charles Hays?

"It is possible that Hays would be the location but the school here has room for 800-plus students that would make it difficult to get the necessary funding for work needed to upgrade PRSS," answered Stigant.

Joanne Larsen said she believed that talk of a middle school was a bit of red ·herring.

"What we are really talking about is the closing of schools and 1 do not believe that the school district can afford the opening of a new school," said Larsen. .

Tina Murray, who has had three kids pass through grade seven, said she would support a middle school opening because at the current services level, kids were crossing from CHSS to PRSS to attend specific courses, which she felt made access to education more difficult.

And she added that the whole aspect of age mix was something her kids would have benefited from.

"I feel that my grade sevens were more than finished with elementary school," said Murray.

The district will host an open meeting tonight at Charles Hays Secondary. It begins at 7 p.m. But those wishing to speak as delegates are asked to register with the district by 4 p.m.

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