Friday, November 05, 2010

Terrace schools debate has a familiar ring to it

“Being released from the capital improvement requirement costs as well as the staffing costs of Thornhill Junior will allow the district over the next five years to put about $3.1 million into direct services to students,” -- Some of the background from a media release on the developing plans for the Coast Mountain School District.

Been there, done that, could be the word from Prince Rupert, but for Terrace parents this fall brings a school year of uncertainty and debate over the fate of a number of schools in the region. A debate that Rupert residents might caution their Terrace neighbours could become quite an emotional one over the next year.

The Coast Mountain School District is in the process of reviewing its operational plans and offering up the word of reconfiguration, a familiar part of the lexicon now for Rupert residents, is about to become the topic of the day for Terrace parents, students and educators.

School Board officials released information this month that outlines the savings they believe could be realized from a string of closures and school reconfigurations that would change the current roster of schools in the Terrace region.

At the heart of the discussions could be the fate of Thornhill Junior Secondary, which the Coast mountain District is considering for the closure list, suggesting that savings  could be returned to the District of just under 1.5 million should that school be closed.

If approved, that school would host its final classes in June of 2012.

Other changes to the Terrace schools include changing Skeena Junior to a middle school from Grades 7 to 9 and expanding Caledonia's reach to include Grade ten to the current curriculum of Grade 11 and 12 classes.

Elementary schools in the district would also be affected by the changing dynamic, as Grade 7 classes shift from their neighbourhood schools to Skeena Junior.

Only Parkside Secondary, the city's alternative school would remain untouched by the proposed changes to the District's make up.

Coast Mountain School District posted their Reconfiguration plans as well as some background on the middle school option to their website,  outlining the shift in the educational process as well as the savings they anticipate to receive should the plan move forward.

 Terrace and area parents have their opportunity to offer feedback to the proposals with  the remaining number of public sessions planned through November.

The debate over the schools in the area comes however as the School District itself is facing a fair amount of controversy and apparent disarray, recently Rob Greenwood, the Superintendent of Schools for the District resigned his position, his departure was followed by that of Linda Brown, the School District's Secretary/Treasurer.

One imagines that those surprising departures may become part of the ongoing debate this month, with Terrace parents perhaps wishing to learn if the changes to the schools blue print being presented this month had anything to do with the changers in upper administration announced in October.

They may also be inclined to ask the District to wait until the administrative turmoil settles down and a permanent Superintendent put in place, before considering the changes under consideration at the moment.

The Terrace Standard provided some handy reference material for those wishing to learn more about the changes and the financial implications of both making the changes or holding to the status quo.

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