As a parent with a child at Qualicum Beach Elementary (QBES), I would like to thank town council for taking an interest in the school closure issue.
Closing QBES in the heart of Qualicum would have a negative impact on businesses and on the town’s ability to attract and retain young families. There is the opportunity to turn QBES into a community school, which would offer programs and services that benefit all members of the community. VIU Elder College, yoga instructors and local artists have already committed to running programs at Qualicum Beach Community School. A community school is able to rent out space and generate income as a non-profit organization.
The Qualicum Beach Community School Steering Committee has put together a business plan to run Qualicum Beach Elementary as a community school. It has asked the school board for one year to demonstrate that a community school can enhance community wellness while increasing revenue for the district.
The Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District (SD68) has designated five community schools. Their education committee is also recommending that their board “include the concept of community schools as much as possible” in their ten-year plan.
Our school board should explore the option of community schools before deciding on closures. While French Creek Community School and Errington Elementary are important community assets, they are not designated as community schools.
As a parent, I strongly encourage the school trustees to give the community school option a chance. It’s not about closing schools in other parts of the district; it’s about options that can generate new revenue.
School closures are permanent. They provide short-term financial gain; however, they lead to a decline in enrollment. Instead, let’s explore a positive solution: community schools across our district beginning in Qualicum Beach.