School closure policy still under review

No rush to close school, say officials

School District 69 (Qualicum) is still reviewing Policy 3040 on school closure, consolidation or reconfiguration.

The revision of the policy was controversial when it was introduced in January, in light of a report released three months earlier that recommended school closures as the best way to deal with declining enrollment.

When the board passed first reading of the revised policy to get it on the table for public input, an overflow audience was unhappy, fearing the board was rushing through the policy changes to make school closures easier.

Board chair Eve Flynn said they received feedback from about a dozen people, summarizing they want a longer consultation period and making the education of students as close to home as possible, a priority.

Those changes were made, among other adjustments, she said, adding wording that “Schools and their students are an integral part of the community,” and that any potential closures take that into consideration.

They also increased the required public consultation process from 60 to 90 days.

A new or revised policy starts with the District Policy Committee which includes trustees, senior staff and representatives from parent and union groups.

“This policy reflects a progression…” explained Flynn, “the committee wanted to go beyond the statutory requirements.”

The policy, last updated in 2003, had fallen out of line with provincial regulation and a new Ministerial Order made in 2008.

The school board did not vote to advance the new policy at their last meeting — giving people time to review it again. 

Flynn and the trustees have stressed there is no rush.

The school closure policy will come back to the board for second reading, likely at their next meeting on June 21. 

In April the board voted to not make any decisions about school closures until the spring of 2012.

writer@pqbnews.com

 

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