Board’s actions on school closure opposed

We are writing to express our opposition to the recent actions of the board of education for School District 67.

Dear Editor:

We are writing to express our opposition to the recent actions of the board of education for School District 67.

With less than 90 days of public consideration, the board voted to accept Option (I), and to close Trout Creek Elementary School and reconfigure the entire school system of Summerland.

Giant’s Head will become the only elementary school in Summerland and will house 360 Kindergarten to Grade 3 students.

Summerland Middle School will now comprise Grades 4 to 7 students and Summerland Secondary will comprise Grades 8 to 12.

Based on the board’sown enrolment projections for September 2016, Giant’s Head will become the largest mega-sized primary school in the province and will be filled over capacity with 360 of our youngest, most vulnerable children.

Multiple modulars/portables will be required to achieve this, taking up valuable playground space.

There will be no room for new students at this school.

How can we adequately grow our middle and high schools with such limitations at the elementary level?

The future community growth and economic impacts of this decision on Summerland are worthy of more than a cursory 90-day review.

In this rushed process, it appears that the board has made multiple policy and procedural errors.

The board is currently the subject of an investigation by the BC Office of the Ombudsperson.

For example, SD 67 School Closure Policy 750 d, iv requires at least seven days’ notice before a community consultation meeting with the Board. To discuss Option (I), The Summerland community was given just six days’ notice of the meeting on Jan. 12, 2016.

All other schools on the closure list had a minimum of five weeks to prepare.

Over 1,800 residents (in just 10 days over the holidays) of Summerland signed a petition asking for a delay of one year’s time to allow for meaningful collaboration with the mayor and council of Summerland, as they have requested in writing “to revise and substantiate the growth projections for Summerland schools, reconsider the impact on the community of any school closure, provide complete data and greater transparency in the consultation process, apply principles in a consistent manner, and consider alternatives to school closures.”

We respectfully request that anyone who shares these concerns to please contact the SD 67 board and Minister of Education to request that this closure decision be rescinded at the board’s April 11 meeting for a minimum of one year to allow for further meaningful review.

Dawn Bassett, Lora Dingle, Sherri Lund, Meghann Pleasance, Crystal Schumacher, Gillian Stevens, Emma Wolff