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REPORTING · 9th December 2010
Walter McFarlane
Complete video of the discussions attached below this article.

The School board met on December 8th for their regular meeting in the school board offices in Terrace. The Boardroom was packed with residents with only standing room remaining and people standing at the doorway. After a quick election, Barry Pankhurst was re-named School Board Chair and Art Erasmus was selected for the position of Vice Chair.

School Closures and reconfigurations were the topics for New Business. The consideration to close Thornhill Junior Secondary School and Roy Wilcox in Kitimat were at the top of the list and the reconfiguration to the middle schools followed.

While there was debate on the issue, Trustee Art Erasmus pointed out the student population was reducing in numbers and still had to pay for the buildings. Trustee Tanis Kilpatrick said costs are quickly rising and the closures were necessary to maintain services.

Pankhurst stepped down from the Chair to point out they have not fully addressed the safety concerns brought forth by the Kitimat parents for students who have to walk to school.

Dianne Penner countered how Nechako would be a benefit to the students of Roy Wilcox and provide them a better education. She also said the two schools were close to one another.

Raymond Raj agreed the safety concerns had not been met and he was unwilling to risk the safety of the students. The motion however received three readings and Roy Wilcox is now slated for closure.

With much more debate, closing Thornhill Junior Secondary School was tabled to a future meeting as a vote to move this forward did not get the required unanimous support.

On the topic of middle schools, Kilpatrick pointed out there was uncertainty of where the money would come from. She pointed out the schooling model was not broken and did not need to be fixed. She also argued she had done research and found middle schools would not to work as well as they were told.

The rest of the board spoke favourably claiming; this would help support the requirements set by the Ministry of Education, be better for the students and would be a step forward for the schools. Both motions were carried.

At the end of the meeting, Pankhurst asked the parents not to blame the school board as the school boards across the province were not receiving enough funds to properly run their schools.

“We have to live within our means by school act. We don’t have a choice in the matter,” said Pankhurst.
School Closure
Comment by Susie Barbosa on 9th December 2010
I think that perhaps Mrs. Penner should come back to Kitimat, strap on a full back pack and walk from Roy Wilcox to Nechako. It may not be far for an adult, but for children another story.
As far as the students receiving a better education at Nechako, I'm not sure if this trustee was misquoted or not, but that is a slap in the face to all of the dedicated teachers and staff that work at Roy Wilcox. I think that Roy Wilcox and Nechako both provide students with a great educational experience. This is not the reason for the closure.

I don't envy the school board trustees for the thankless job and responsibilities that they have on their shoulder. However, the point of the consultation meetings were to gather feedback from parents to enable the trustees to make a decision that would be in the best interest of the students. All of this feedback, no concrete answers nor have all the concerns been addressed and trustees still voted to close the school. I am rather confused. What was the point then? The trustees proved our point that we were telling them at the meetings. Regardless of the feedback we give them, in the back of their mind, they know what they are going to vote.
Thank you to Ray and Barry for at least opposing the closure. Too bad Roy Wilcox wasn't shown the same consideration that Thornhill received. It only seems reasonable to table a motion if you don't have all the kinks worked out. This wasn't the case for Roy Wilcox and leads me to not support the judgement of our school board.