Opinion

EDITORIAL: School closures in Parksville Qualicum Beach

Elected officials and top-level administrators cannot view the public's increased need for consultation as a nuisance.

At the same time, certain factions of the public cannot keep screaming for more consultation, or complaining they want more and more input, just because they don't like the ultimate decisions.

Closing schools is a big deal. We don't believe you could find one school board trustee or administrator who relishes the thought of closing even one school.

There are spaces for 6,000 students in this district. There are 4,000 students in this district. We are told those numbers aren't going to improve for at least the next 10 years.

The last time the issue of school closures raised its head, the public felt blindsided. And from what we can remember, rightfully so. That is not the case this time.

The school board and administration have gone above and beyond to inform and listen to the public this time around. Numerous public meetings and calls for input have dominated our pages for months. Frankly, if you didn't know this was coming, if you weren't aware the school district wanted to hear from you, then you haven't been paying attention.

The recommendations for specific closures are now out there, as detailed in our story today and reported first on pqbnews.com. Trustees will speak to those recommendations tonight (7 p.m. in the Parksville council chambers at city hall).

The closure of any school can be an emotional issue for community members, we get that. Schools are often the social gathering point for a town or neighbourhood, especially when they are centrally located. But the writing is on the wall (the demographics, both now and for the next decade).

What would be helpful now is a look forward, some ideas about what can be done with closed schools. If trustees and administrators drag their heels on this, if they allow schools to become boarded-up, grafitti-laden eyesores used by squatters and partiers, then they have neglected their duties to their communities.

As painful as school closures can be, perhaps some positives can come from the community or private-enterprise use of these facilities.

— Editorial by John Harding

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