Minister’s visit just a school district tour

George Abbott disappoints group trying to save Qualicum Beach high school

Eve Flynn ... first visit by an education minister in five years

Eve Flynn ... first visit by an education minister in five years

The group formed to try to save Kwalikum Secondary School from closure used the school’s successes to try and sway the B.C. education minister against shutting it down. Yet, the response was not one they put a lot of faith in.

Minister George Abbott visited School District 69 (Qualicum) last week to meet with the board and staff as well as the Oceanside Communities for Quality Education group. The minister spent a few hours with members of the board including a tour of the Building Learning Together (BLT) facilities at Qualicum Beach Elementary, the Words on Wheels Bus, a middle school and both secondary schools and had a lunch catered by Parksville Alternate Secondary School students.

Over lunch he heard how the PASS catering program teaches skills for future employment or post-secondary training. 

He also heard about programs like the District Drug and Alcohol Review Committee (DDARC), under which students are no longer suspended out of school, but participate in a hearing with parents, staff and health care workers to develop a counseling plan.

Board chair Eve Flynn said Abbot was impressed with some of the local programs and suggested they could be emulated in other districts.

They also talked about the district’s career education and dual-credit opportunities for high school students looking to get a head start into the workforce.

Along with showing the success of unique local programs Flynn said they discussed the challenges and opportunities around current planning, enrolment projections and the future of school facilities, but didn’t receive any specific commitments.

The minister was provided with a copy of the board’s plan for further investigation and community dialogue, approved at the end of March.

Lynnette Kershaw, one of four representatives with Oceanside Communities for Quality Education (OCQE) who met separately with the minister was not quite as positive.

“We were thrilled to have met with the minister, don’t get me wrong, it was a great opportunity to show we’re not just some little group of radicals,” she said, but added they didn’t get as much of a response as they’d hoped.

She said the group, formed to find ways to keep schools open, didn’t go in with a list of complaints begging for money, but brought a long list of successes in the district and ideas to increase the value of various schools and programs.

They told him their vision for the future of the district includes increasing the international student program and taking advantage of local expertise by establishing a music academy, an electric shuttle program, an organic gardening program and increasing focus on unique aspects like the shop and band departments at the high schools.

She said they also talked about how this district, though not considered rural, serves rural areas and should get some of the protection rural schools get, to keep children from having to travel hours a day if schools were closed.

They also tried to impress upon him that while projections show continuing declining enrolment, the number of students is only supposed to drop for a few more years before starting a slow recovery and they don’t feel closing schools is the best way to deal with that.

She said it was tricky to condense the group’s eight months of work down to the 38 minutes they ended up getting and as they expected they didn’t get any commitment to help but generally felt they were well received.

Flynn concluded in a press release that, “It’s been over five years since a Minister of Education has visited our district and it was wonderful to have the chance to share many of our innovative initiatives with him.”

 

Just Posted

The proposed running track upgrade at Ballenas Secondary is now on course. (PQB News file photo)
RDN: Parksville track upgrade project gains some traction

Staff recommends board approve $204,000 funding

The total earnings of Town of Qualicum Beach council and mayor amounted to $186,649 in 2020, including expenses. (Town of Qualicum Beach photo)
Nine Qualicum Beach town employees earned more than $100K in 2020

Mayor and council received earnings totalling $186,649

(PQB News file photo)
Fireworks report highlights enforcement challenges for Regional District of Nanaimo

Director: ‘I just think it’s wasting everybody’s time’

Terry Mazzei next to a truck after it was struck by lightning, with him inside, on Wednesday afternoon, June 9. He walked away from the incident without injury and the truck sustained only mild damage; a blown front tire and newly broken gas gauge. (Wendy Mazzei photo)
Nanoose Bay man walks away unscathed after lightning strike

VIDEO: ‘We like to think that his dad was watching over him’

Douglas Holmes, current Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District chief administrative officer, is set to take on that position at the Regional District of Nanaimo come late August. (Submitted photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo’s next CAO keen to work on building partnerships

Douglas Holmes to take over top administrator role with RDN this summer

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

Most Read