“Options” for schools

Columnist Diana French discusses School District 27's Initial Options Report and plans for school closures and reconfigurations.

School District 27 trustees dropped a doozy on the community last week when they released their “Initial Options Report.” Their plans for school closures and dramatic changes in school configuration came as a surprise to stakeholders.

Trustees say they spent “many hours“  debating the issue with “professional expertise” from senior district staff. They began the process last spring “by reviewing public consultation data and reports from the recent past as well as long-term planning information.”

Two comprehensive studies were the Trillium report in 2006 and “Our Kids Our Future” in 2009. Both involved a lot of teacher and community input. “Options” did not, but trustees will now hold “in depth” consultations (sales pitches?) with the public.

Most people realize some schools will close (which ones is the question) but putting Grade 7 into secondary schools is dicey.

“Options” may be the best thing to ever happen in SD 27. Or not. It’s been years since I was directly involved in education (teacher, trustee, parent) but some things never change. Classroom teachers are still the front line. I’m astonished they weren’t part of this debate.

Our family has had five little people enter three different local schools since 2009, three sets of parents. The parents in two families are veterans of the grades 8-12 reconfiguration. They  aren’t convinced Grade 8 belongs with the higher grades, never mind Grade 7. I’m sure the PACs have ideas, and what about the current crop of Williams Lake Secondary School/Columneetza students?

The city and Cariboo Regional District have consultants and a community task force studying the swimming pool situation, as well as public information sessions.  Mind you, the municipalities want to get it right because they probably have to go to referendum for pool approval. Trustees don’t need public approval for their decisions.

It will be interesting to see how many people show up at the WLSS gym tonight at 6:30 p.m. for the first consultation.

Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.

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