At present our school board and now Qualicum’s town council seem to be in a deep political quagmire concerning the potential school closures for the fall of 2014. Please, speaking to you as a retired school administrator from Coquitlam, this dithering must stop as time frames are tight and ministry requirements after April 29 are not to be ignored.
Superintendent Rollie Koop has chaired several meetings to date, as required by the Act, and consistently reminded all the folks that District 69 does not have the required number of students to keep our schools open at present levels. Therefore, there will be a financial shortfall. This is not allowed by the Act, and we as a result risk the possibility of the appointment of an outside trustee by the ministry.
Keep in mind that the ministry can always explore district amalgamations as a possible solution to many of our problems, as they have done this in the past in other districts. Be warned, consolidation with neighbouring districts by the ministry could result in the reduction or redeployment of not only teachers but also district administration staff. This includes clerical (finance, payroll and purchasing), caretaking, grounds and maintenance crews, and all related support staff (including teacher aides and special needs support).
To our trustees, get busy. Your fundamental task is to find ways to ensure that quality programs are available to all our students from K to 12 at the local school level.
To the town council of Qualicum Beach, I realize that you may think you are being helpful in this matter but clearly this is not your area of governance. The more you become involved, the more difficult it is for the elected school board to make decisions and implement them by April 29. Further, I can’t help wondering about council’s plans for the large vacant space in town which also borders Qualicum Beach Elementary. Perhaps, a fear of potential development is the real core issue and not the closing of QBES at all.
To the affected parents, if the decision is made to close schools, both towns will have to face redevelopment issues of past school lands. There is no doubt that some affected families will experience hardships. However the current situation is not economically feasible. A decision must be made, either by our local board or by Victoria. The existing schools and staffs are more than able to readjust to whatever grade configurations are necessary. Think ahead. The schools your children may be going to are newer, well designed, and modern in every respect. The teachers are the same. They will learn with your help to know your children. It is only a new school and a new opportunity.