District struggles with possible school closure

School District 69 (Qualicum), like most districts, has struggled with funding for years and this year parents were shocked to hear school closures might be considered.

School District 69 (Qualicum), like most districts, has struggled with funding for years and this year parents were shocked to hear school closures might be considered.

Declining enrolment and the loss of funding led to tough budgeting decisions in the last few years including layoffs and cuts to bus services.

A public meeting at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre Oct. 2, 2010 brought the funding issue home to many parents who heard for the first time the district’s long term facilities review was considering closing schools.

Matrix Planning Associates presented the preliminary findings at that meeting and recently recommended options in a draft version submitted to the school board.

Looking at the next 15 years, the review projects “declining enrolment and the resulting loss of funds will necessitate school closures to ensure educational opportunities and course selections for students.”

Matrix’s recommended option closes Kwalikum Secondary School, because it causes the least disruption to other schools in the district, would save $800,000 a year and use school space more efficiently.

The news hit the community hard with hundreds turning up to various Parent Advisory Council and community meetings in the following weeks and over 2,000 people joining a “Save KSS” Facebook page.

After that initial meeting board chair Eve Flynn said they aren’t looking at closing a school to save a few dollars, but that with declining numbers classes get too small to be viable and they simply wouldn’t be able to offer some courses.

“People are now aware of the issue and that’s great,” she said at the time. “We have time, time is not working against us.”

Of the four selected Matrix options, three closed KSS and the option that didn’t would dismantle the entire middle school system, closing two middle schools, converting one into a French immersion elementary, and disrupting every elementary school by adding Grades 6 and 7.

Matrix’s evaluation, weighted for educational criteria, gave that option the lowest grade.

Concerned parents have suggested they don’t trust the enrolment projections but at the initial meeting Matrix consultant Bill Wood said the district is in for “a rocky road over the next 10 years to 15 years.”

“It’s not that the children are going anywhere, they just aren’t there,” he said, adding there are currently half as many students in Grade 2 as there are in Grade 12. When that age group reaches Grade 12 there will be half as many grads 10 years from now.

The board will post more details of their timeline in late January and stress their repeated statements that no decisions have been made and the process will continue throughout the next (2011/12) school year.

Just Posted

Public hearing set for affordable housing development in Parksville

Council passes two bylaws, eyes 130 Shelly Rd. as affordable housing units for families

Christmas program creating tradition for PQB single mother and daughter

‘It just makes all the difference for your child to smile and laugh on Christmas morning’

PQB crime report: Thieves pilfer cash, root beer and hand sanitizer

Oceanside RCMP receive 249 complaints in one-week period

Solutions in sight for Parksville Qualicum Beach doctor shortage

With feasibility study funded, group shares vision of ‘campus of healthcare’

A very cheesy Christmas at Little Qualicum Cheeseworks

Annual family Christmas event, this year with raclette hot off the melting wheel

Strata rental bans escape B.C. speculation tax through 2021, Carole James says

Vacant home tax won’t apply to cabins accessible only by water

WFP the Grinch who stole Christmas

It makes me really sad that you don’t understand the labour relations side of the business.

China hints at national security trials for 2 Canadians detained for one year

The two Canadians’ detention is largely seen as retaliation for the arrest of a Huawei exec

B.C. seaplane company set to test the first commercial electronic plane

The plane is powered by a 750 horsepower electric motor

Fireballs to fill the sky Friday for brightest meteor shower of the year

Geminid meteor shower features colourful, brighter, longer shooting stars

Province sues over sailing incident that killed teen with disabilities

Gabriel Pollard, 16, died from injuries after marine lift failed

First Nations want Big Bar landslide cleared ASAP to allow fish passage

Leadership calling for urgent action and resources to remove obstruction on the Fraser

Most Read