REPORTING · 10th June 2010
Back in 2008, Kitimat was up in arms when the Board of Education put Kildala Elementary School on notice of closure. At the time, Trustee Art Erasmus hinted: With Kildala remaining open, they would have to restart the process of finding a school in Kitimat to close. With the loss of Eurocan, everyone knew it was only a matter of time until another school hit the chopping block.
At the June 9th meeting of Coast Mountains, School District 82, Board of Education, the motion hit the floor. “That the Board serve notice of consideration of Closure of Roy Wilcox Elementary School effective July 31st, 2011 and that the consultation period be from October 1st 2010 to November 29th 2010 and that the decision of the consideration of closure take palace at the December 2010 Regular Board meeting,” read Board of Trustee Chair Barry Pankhurst.
Diana Penner moved the motion and Leigh Kasum seconded. Tanis Kilpatrick opposed the motion because, although she could see the need to reduce operational costs, she had not received any documents which supported the recommendation.
“I do not believe that the board should be approving the consideration of closure notice as a first step in seeking public input on a proposed closure and then compiling the data and evidence that supports such a plan. The board should only approve consideration of closure notice after they fully review the factors that would support such a closure decision and determine that such a closure is justified in meeting the educational needs of our students and are prepared to provide the public information that people require to understand the potential closure. Our decision must be based on up to date enrolment projections, cost savings analysis, the ability of remaining facilities to accommodate students displaced by the closure and our relative condition of our elementary facilities in Kitimat to name a few,” said Kilpatrick
Kilpatrick added they must understand their long term plans as well as their impact on student achievement. She suggested postponing the decision until their September 2010 regular meeting to allow the administration to obtain the information she requested.
Penner disagreed with the tabling motion because there was a lot of background information on this topic. She said the information will be current when they go into consultation with the public.
Raymond Raj stated when they were making the decision on South Hazelton and ET Kenny, Kilpatrick wanted to include Roy Wilcox with those two. Art Erasmus stated they were going back to the point where motions keep getting put off at the end of the year.
Kilpatrick said in January, there were supportive documents and for this recommendation, the information was missing and they should not make a decision until the information was available. The tabling motion failed, the motion to put Roy Wilcox on notice of closure was called and carried.
However, they were still not done with Kitimat. The next motion was for the board to serve notice of reconfiguration of the remaining elementary schools to educate grades K-6, effective September 2012 and the reconfiguration of the High School into two schools, one to teach students in grades 7-9 and the other to teach grade 10-12 students.
Penner wanted clarification on the division of the two schools. She wanted to know if they would both be in the same building. Kilpatrick stated these suggestions did not have any background support and data.
“They did not come from the project 2012 process but resulted from the ensuing Kitimat Educational Review. The report on this included a statement that: ‘The committee is strongly in favour of developing a middle model in the community’ and went on to describe the current being asked to consider. The report did not explain why the committee favoured the middle school model within existing configuration or explain how the existing structure was impeding student success,” said Kilpatrick.
She suggested this was to address parental concerns about 2012 and to reverse a board decision to reduce the footprint of Mount Elizabeth by closing the West Wing (The Old Wing). She said they need better enrolment figures and projections, financial implications and information on whether the reconfiguration between schools which were designed for different configurations would be in the best interests of the students. She requested the decision be postponed until they get the information on decisions and whether or not the board is dedicated to providing such a structure.
The motion to postpone was made. Erasmus stated grade configurations on their own will not impede or enhance student learning, this was up to the teachers, students, parents and the district working together. He said the reconfiguration made sense and he was not in favour of postponing it because they have discussed it and now is the time to go to the public.
The postpone motion failed. (Diane) made it clear to the public these motions have been discussed and they have looked into these topics and are willing to speak to the public over these subjects. Raj agreed because if they did not have the figures, they would not be taking this to the public. The motion to give notice of reconfiguration passed.
These motions will take the reconfigurations and closures to the public for consultation.
In Terrace the board served notice for moving Grade 7 out of Cassie Hall Elementary School, Suwilaawks Community School, Uplands Elementary School, Ecole Mountainview and Thornhill Elementary School and into Skeena Jr. Secondary School. Skeena Jr. Secondary School was also served notice to have their Grade 10 class moved to Caledonia Senior Secondary School. The Board also moved the closure of Thornhill Junior Secondary School be delayed to July of 2012.
Kilpatrick voiced her concerns but she wanted to delay for a full review. Rob Greenwood, Superintendent of Schools stated the policy on closure of schools was “sweet and simple” and does not call for the requirements she is asking for. He said he appreciated her concern and the information would be provided. He said the information has been supplied throughout the last number of years and things do change. He apologized for involving himself in the debate.
This motion was carried.
Tanis Kilpatrick was opposed to all of the motions on the grounds the information for the decisions were not included or were not fully explained.