A couple hundred people, including school district and municipal officials, attended a second public meeting hosted “by and for concerned citizens” at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre Monday night on the possibility of closing Kwalikum Secondary School.
Parent Warren Munroe gave a presentation on fluctuating enrolment, teacher Tim Daniels on the benefits of two high schools and Lynette Kirshaw on why KSS should be kept open.
A review done by Matrix Planning Associates for School District 69 (Qualicum), says declining enrolment and the loss of funds will make it hard to keep two high schools open.
Matrix recommends closing KSS.
The speakers said a closure would not only affect children and their parents, but have a strong impact on the future of Qualicum Beach and all of Oceanside.
Daniels, a KSS physics teacher with 13 years experience as an aviation software engineer, said he has been thinking a lot about the issue as an analytical problem to be understood.
“Other districts have consolidated high schools, so what’s different here?” he asked, explaining there are differences.
District 69 has two distinct population centres and other districts have built new high schools for everyone to move into together, which is not being considered here.
He gave many examples of why two schools are better than one, such as the benefits of smaller classrooms, the easy atmosphere where teachers and students know each other, less competition for courses and the range of unique facilities and choices.
He pointed out KSS has an automotive shop, two music rooms and a bigger gym than Ballenas Secondary School, where KSS students would be moved if the school closed.
Kirshaw said the Matrix report shows combining both high schools would make BSS “overcrowded from the get-go and have to start in expansion mode.”
She expressed concerns that the Matrix numbers don’t include Nanoose Bay students or the 70-80 international students in the high schools and added it appears many things like transportation costs have not been considered.
She said the Save KSS group is concerned there hasn’t been an open and consultative process between the Board of Education and everyone in the district and they want to have an equal voice at the table.