School board passes closure policy

Over a year of intensive debate leads to new policy

After 14 months of debate, raucous public meetings and delays, the current board of trustees of School District 69 (Qualicum) adopted an updated Policy 3040 on school closure, consolidation or reconfiguration, at their last ever meeting.

The regular board meeting on Nov. 22 was the last of the previous five member board, of which two are stepping down and two were not re-elected.

Current chair Eve Flynn will be the only incumbent when the new board is sworn in on Dec. 6.

All new or updated policies start with the standing District Policy Committee, which includes two trustees, senior staff and representatives from parent and union groups.

Flynn explained at the time the Policy 3040 “review began in November (2010) with minor corrections suggested,” since it had last been revised in 2003 and had fallen out of line with provincial regulation.

She said the need to revise the policy was suggested by a committee member who felt that since school closures were a hot topic, the policy should include a required public consultation period, which it didn’t originally.

Public confusion over the “school closure” policy coming before the board three months after fears of school closures hit the community made it a big controversy with over 140 people attending the usually empty board meeting to demand the policy not be updated.

The board agreed to send the policy back to the policy committee and give more time for discussion and public input.

It has been back and forth to the board several times, with each of the required three readings intentionally spread out to allow for minor tweaks and adjustments over the last several months.

Now including the requirement of “…a comprehensive public consultation process of no less than 90 days…” the board passed third and final reading, adopting the updated policy.