Update on “Closing Schools”

There has been an additional Notice of Motion regarding this matter:

“That a bylaw to close Davis Bay Elementary School in Sechelt, commencing September 2010, be read for a first and second time at the January 12, 2010 Regular Board Meeting.”

There has been considerable outrage directed towards the Board since this was made, particularly due to the fact that the Notice of Motion was not presented at the last Board meeting.

There have been numerous complaints, questions and accusations directed to the Board regarding this Notice of Motion.

Unfortunately, I can’t answer the questions about why this was presented at this time or what has changed since the December Board meeting. This Notice of Motion has been brought forward by an individual Trustee, and is not an initiative of the Board.

I understand people are passionate and angry about how this came about, however, if there have been any “behind the scenes”, clandestine, or otherwise sneaky meetings regarding this, I haven’t been invited. I’m not saying no one has met with anyone; I’m saying I don’t know. You could fill volumes with things I haven’t been invited to. (You hear that Tony Barber from the ninth grade? I hear your party sucked anyway! My mom and I had an awesome Friday night, thank you very much.)

All I can say is that I stand behind my earlier comments that I think a neighbourhood school in Davis Bay is both desirable and viable. I haven’t received any new information to make me think otherwise.



Filed under Sunshine Coast Board of Education, Sunshine Coast News and Politics

7 responses to “Update on “Closing Schools”

  1. Silas

    To Jason’s growing base of blog readers:

    The last sentence here is key. He is still listening to new information, and acknowledging that new information COULD make him think otherwise. Although I can’t guarantee any of the new information we receive in the next month will sway any of the trustees, I am certain there will be new information… We need to be making these decisions based on our most up-to-date info and projections, rather than presumptions based on last year or previous years. We all know this.

    Also, there was no meeting Jason was not invited to. This particular Notice of Motion consisted of an email, which was promptly forwarded to all members of the board. First discussion of it occurred on January 12.

    Silas White, Board Chair

  2. Jason, you say, “This Notice of Motion has been brought forward by an individual Trustee, and is not an initiative of the Board.” It should be noted that the original Notice of Motion to close Sechelt Elemenatary was also brought forward by an individual Trustee, and was also not an initiative of the board.

    At the board meeting where the initial motion was made by Trustee Mewhort, there was also a motion made to change the rules in terms of timing for the presentation of motions, and those rules were followed by Trustee Russell who made the second motion.

    At the board meeting there was agreement that, even though the motion was valid and according to the new way of doing things, there was a unanimous decision to not deal with it that night, but rather to put it forward to the next meeting. As well, another motion was made to close Kinnikinnick with the rationale that having motions to close all three schools up on the table, the board was demonstrating their openness to continued discussion as Silas was so clear to note.

    I have been a principal of schools of varying numbers of students ranging from about 70 to over 300. In my considered opinion, having the three schools merge to one is the best route for the board to take. While I strongly believe in community schools, I am also quite aware of budget issues you face and the effect that has had on staffing over the past number of years.

    A school of close to 300 students, according to the information that has been presented to the board and which can be found on the school district website, shows that there can be strong personnel support of special education, music, library, and perhaps other school/community focussed needs.

    Look closely at what is being offered in these “non classroom” based areas now at these three schools and compare that to the offerings at Gibsons Elementary and Roberts Creek Elementary, schools of the roughly the same size as a merged Sechelt School would have to offer.

    Administratively, I suggest that the 300 sized school is more efficiently managed. At a school this size, the principal can be a full time leader and teach where it supports instruction, not leads the instruction. When I was principal at Davis Bay when it had a population of 69 back in late 1970s, I taught 4 days a week and had one day for administration … those days were markedly different from today with far fewer demands from the government, the board office, the parents, and the students. I know what it is like to have to be the classroom teacher and the administrator and have witnessed the issues faced by my colleagues in smaller schools during my four years as a district staff person visiting schools. It just isn’t the same environment as it was 30 years ago and giving a school the opportunity to have a full time administrator who can supervise instruction, work with students on demand, and deal with the myriad of demands from government and others is important.

    I’d be happy to talk with you more about this as I know this is a very difficult decision you have to make when it comes time to vote in a couple of weeks.

    Cheers… Bob

    • Jason Scott

      Thanks Bob, for your perspective, I completely value your expertise and experience.

      And you’re absolutely right about the Notice of Motion information you’ve given. My next post will be about this process, which can be confusing. This confusion has fueled some of the anxiety and anger around this issue.

      This post was a quick (probably poor) attempt to respond to the many communications we received as a board since this latest Notice of Motion was introduced.

      Without first seeing those communications, one might think this post was a criticism of the Trustee who made this Notice of Motion. That wasn’t the intent.

  3. Silas

    Just to briefly elaborate on Jason’s last point, I think before last meeting, quite a number of correspondents to the board were under the impression that a Notice of Motion was basically a full-board, final decision. This misconception especially spread like wildfire after the second Notice of Motion… (at the time when this post was written)

    Anyway, I hope we cleared things up at last week’s meeting, even if it, too, was not free from surprises. A lot of good points and ideas continue to come in. I will remind people to send letters and emails to the board (board@sd46.bc.ca) or to the Chair (silas@nightwoodeditions.com) to ensure they are distributed to all trustees. Lobbying trustees individually may be a tempting strategy, but the only input we can technically base our final decisions on will be input that all trustees have had an equal opportunity to hear/read and consider.

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