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REPORTING · 5th September 2011
Walter McFarlane
Summer, despite the rain, is over and school returns tomorrow, Tuesday September 6th, for the new school year. Roy Wilcox will not be returning and preparations were made at Nechako for the amalgamated school over the summer.

“Most of the things that needed to be done for the classrooms were done. The school grounds, play ground equipment hasn’t been moved yet but I’ve been assured by the administration that it will be done in September once all the kids are in school and they’ve had more time,” said School Board Chair Barry Pankhurst.

The Parent Advisory Committees agreed to have some of the playground equipment moved to Nechako Elementary School. The remaining equipment will fall under the care of the District of Kitimat.

There are no plans for the empty Roy Wilcox Building as of this time.

Pankhurst added he had concerns about the underpass as the District of Kitimat is no longer changing the lights in the facility. “It’s very frustrating that the District Administration is saying: ‘the lights are getting broken so often, they are not going to replace them’ so we have a concern about the lights not working underneath there and we hope that Council will Change their mind,” said Pankhurst.

Pankhurst also stated rumours of the public schools being filled to capacity were false. There are new students in the schools although they would not know what the final numbers were until late September.

“Our numbers look like they are going to be up in the Elementary Schools,” Said Pankhurst.
This issue is a community concern
Comment by M.Craven on 8th September 2011
anon y mous, I am a university professor from Tokyo and I came to Japan to meet with Nathan Cullen. I personally know how it is almost impossible to contact him, as I had to come from Tokyo to alert Nathan about the Tsunami debris and the nuclear waste which is floating in towards BC, as well as the contaminated salmon which will migrate from Japan into BC waters and will mix with our BC salmon in about a year and a half. Nathan is one man dealing with many issue for the entire Northern region, therefore was too busy to meet with me. It took over three weeks for myself staying in a hotel to finally get a chance to discuss this issue with him. Do you really think he has time to deal with this issue? I assure you if you contact Nathan you will deal with his secretary and the issue will not be resolved quickly. Why a child should be left out of class when his friends are beginning a new school year. This is a crime and with your statement I only wish you would have the courage to state your name.
Losing a school in a community is a heartbreaking and people should be speaking up. Not against the teachers but to the government about the lack of funding. I went to Roy Wilcox. I can honestly say the education I received there help determine my career path.
I have been away for 13 years from Canada, I am an educator and I have experienced a different educational system which has never had a single teachers strike. I feel alternatives such as St Anthony's are viable options and there is no reason to show disrespect for their school by slamming their fees. In all honesty with all of the cutbacks the region has seen to education St Anthony's is probably the best choice for parents who can afford to send their children to a private school.
anon y mous, if you would like to continue this discussion privately please feel free to contact me. I was stunned to learn what has happened to my former hometown’s schools and how people like you defend it. Instead of whining to Nathan Cullen who is too busy with very pressing issues why not look at what can be done within the community and it’s counsel and how the community can welcome these students.
My opinion
Comment by anon y mous on 7th September 2011
I believe with all this complaining about the lack of space in the schools people are forgetting that part of the problem is that teachers have a cap of only 25 children per classroom in their contract. Under the current Phase 1 strike situation they are being more difficult and will not bend to accommodate even one extra student per class. Where they have in the past without issue.

People must remember that the decision to close the third elementary school was due to a decrease in funding by the government. Funding is based on enrollment in the community based on the previous school year and or predictions for the current year. Last year numbers were at an all time low.

RTA and others have not been exactly open in divulging what is going to happen in Kitimat and seem to announce things last minute. How was the Board suppose to predict double the enrollment? If this is actually even correct. Where is the 300 children enrolled fact coming from? I don't believe this is to be true.

St Anthony's is a great school, I agree, however the 200+ per month is pricey for some families. Not to mention that only approx 20 percent is allowed to be used as a deductible against income taxes as it is considered a "charitable donation" to the church instead of a "tuition" as they like to call it. Which you could get back 100 percent of on income taxes. If you want more people to enroll in St Anthony's it should be done as Alberta does where you can apply your school portion of your property taxes to the "tuition". If not, you are paying twice for schooling, which to me is redundant.

I am not saying it isn't wrong that children are having their education put on hold . I just believe you should be complaining to your local MP (Nathan Cullen) and see what he can do to help. If numbers are in fact up, that's great and I am sure he can pressure the government for additional funding to re-open a school.

Good luck, I am sure it will work out!
RE: Kitimat school too full for my kids...continued
Comment by Kelly Aitken on 6th September 2011
I'm not sure if having an audience via the Kitimat Daily had any affect or not, but the end of the week came early. Today, we were told that there was room for both of my children at Nechako. They're elated, but I only hope that no other families are left dangling. Teachers and principles can only do so much when they are forced to squeeze as many children as possible into too few classrooms, with a limited number of staff. They have to wear a lot of hats, but they're not magicians!
Another option
Comment by LRocha on 6th September 2011
St. Anthony's School is a private school in Kitimat - tuition based. We offer grades k-7, great bus service, music program for K-7 including band for grades 6&7 along with many other positive aspects.
We encourage our students to be life-long learners - striving spiritually, academcially, physically, behaviourly and socially.
Check us out as an alternative.
Kitimat school too full for my kids.
Comment by Kelly O'Rourke Aitken on 6th September 2011
Tuesday, September 6, 2011 at 5:12am

This, most wonderful of days for most parents of school aged children, will see my boys at home waiting to see which school in Kitimat has room for them. We were a day late to register, but I've seen people show up to register even on the first day in other schools with no problems.

On Friday evening, the principle of Nechako Elementary called and told me that there was room for my 5th grader but not my 3rd grader. They have to wait to see which students are returning from the previous year, and would let me know by Thursday or Friday if my children can attend the same school as all of their newly made friends, or if we will be going down the hill to Kildala.

Three months ago a great school just a block away was closed down. Now the school in our catchment area has 300 children, as opposed to 150 last year! If a school has no wiggle room for one child, then I think they are already too full. Luckily Hubby is home right now, or one of us would be trying to get time off work ...this is Canada right???
Child turned away from Elementary School
Comment by A.Heidl on 5th September 2011
I attended a BBQ Friday night and met with some of the locals and newcomers to Kitimat.
One couple was explaining to me how they recently moved up to Kitimat and were under the impression that aside from the fantastic extra curricular activities available for the entire family, there was the chance to find work as well as adequate space for their children to attend the local schools. Now while one parent works and the other is still searching for employment they received a call that evening informing them that only one child of the two may attend school. The other child may not attend as there is not enough space. The principal had mentioned that they had only estimated a 150 children for the school year, but so far 300 have enrolled in the Elementary school.
I believe that more children might have also been turned away from school. I also believe this is a concerning issue, especially after Roy Wilcox school was just shut down. With all of the new workers moving to Kitimat does it make sense to have only two Elementary schools?