The work that our trustees have done in the past few months has been difficult and I am sure has taken a great deal of time from their personal lives.
However, having taught at both Williams Lake secondary and Columneetza secondary, I am very confused as to the reasons why the board of trustees decided to make Columneetza a 7-9 school and Williams Lake secondary a 10-12 school.
A consideration of the two very different physical spaces and facilities at the schools makes it seem clear that Columneetza should be the senior high school. The first of these reasons is the presence of the state of the art carpentry, automotive and metalwork shops at Columneetza.
Large numbers of students use these shops and the presence of an apprenticeship partnership with Thompson Rivers University means that proximity between the facilities is important.
A complicating factor is busing Williams Lake senior students to take shop courses at CSS. First, busing has proven to be an abysmal failure for students in the past; these students do not want to bus back and forth, do not want to spend, especially double blocks that extend over lunch, with a much younger grade level and do not have a sense of identity to the building. It is almost certain that enrolment in shop courses would plummet, and this occurs at a time when economists and immigration experts clearly state that the trades are in desperate need of workers and pay these workers top wages.
Busing between the schools is also expensive and is costly to the environment.
Another problem with a comparison of the facilities at the two schools is the number of science labs; Williams Lake secondary has approximately three labs and Columneetza has six science labs. This is a critical consideration: Grades 10-12 are the three years the government sets out for the graduation program. A shortage of lab space could seriously impact these three critical years.
I think the trustees should visit both of the schools and look at the facilities before moving ahead with their plans. Once put in effect, a plan that did not carefully consider logistics could create scheduling and bussing issues that would be very difficult to reverse.