More than 100 people gathered at Kwaleen Elementary School on Nov. 20 to discuss the Initial Options Report produced by the Board of Trustees, and the board’s proposal to close Kwaleen Elementary and four other schools at the end of the 2012/2013 school year.
Kwaleen Parent Advisory Council (KPAC) president, Katie Dyck, and Russet Bluff Community Association (RBCA) representative, Kirk Dressler made a presentation that addressed: the reasons reported by the school district as justification for the closing of Kwaleen Elementary; the quality of education offered at Kwaleen School; the probable impacts of closing Kwaleen School on the city and the region; and the deficiencies in the Initial Options Report public engagement exercise.
Parents and residents expressed shock and anger that one of the district’s top performing schools was being selected for closure, and many questioned why other alternatives or options had not been presented by the school district, KPAC and RBCA said in a joint press release.
“The school district mentioned that they had developed five or six other options, and yet they are choosing not to disclose these options to the public,” said KPAC president, Katie Dyck. “We’re entitled to know what the other options are and to provide input on those options. This is a public body making decisions about public resources that have a profound impact on our children and our community. The process must be fair, open, transparent and meaningful. It has not been that thus far.”
The board of trustees acknowledged they would discuss the possibility of extending the engagement period at the duly convened board meeting of Nov. 27, the press release stated.
“I’m pleased to hear that the board will be giving consideration to the extension of the engagement period,” Dressler said in the press release.
“It is also my understanding that the board will be discussing the issuance of another report.
“The description of the first report as the ‘Initial Options Report’ clearly tends to suggest that there will, or should be, another report setting out advanced or refined options.
“There has been extensive public input so far, so let’s roll out in a report what that input has been and go from there.”