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General · 1st December 2015
Susan Wilson
To concerned Area C residents,

The Board of Education for School District 72 has received your comments and concerns with respect to the draft facility plan released on November 17, 2015 and request for a decision deferral until our January 2016 public board meeting.

It would seem that there is some misunderstanding and angst circulating amongst Area C residents with respect to the recommendations contained within the draft facility plan and community consultation, particularly the potential impact for Quadra Elementary and Surge Narrows School. This letter is to provide clarification and outline our next steps with the hope of alleviating some of this anxiety.

The draft facility plan presented to the Board of Education on November 17, 2015 contained seven recommendations from School District 72 senior management to address the state of disrepair across district buildings and surplus space.

At this point the Board of Education has only received the report and are now considering whether or not to accept the recommendations in their entirety, to possibly accept some of them, or to perhaps decide to change some of the recommendations. This will be the intent of this agenda item at our December 8, 2015 public board meeting.

We have not decided, as yet, to close schools.

In fact, the only possible school closures being considered at this point are of two elementary schools within the greater Campbell River area by the end of June 2016. The report does not contain a recommendation to close any of our Area C schools.

With respect to Quadra Elementary and Surge Narrows School, our Board of Education and School District 72 senior management understands the importance of these schools to their island communities. The recommendation to possibly review rural school facility use is the only recommendation contained within the plan which could directly affect Quadra Elementary and Surge Narrows School, as well as Cortes School and Sayward Elementary/Jr. Secondary.

A review of our rural school facility use, if decided upon by the Board, would include extensive conversations with these school communities, the communities as a whole, and their elected representatives. Our intention would be to work collaboratively in an effort to continue to provide the best educational programming for students and support the vibrancy of these communities, while fulfilling our obligation to be fiscally responsible and prudent stewards of public funds.

These conversations and any possible outcomes, should the Board decide to accept the recommendation to conduct a review of our rural school facility use, would occur approximately from September 2016 until June 2019.

It has never been the intention of the Board of Education that the request for email feedback on the draft facilities plan by November 30 would be the only opportunity for consultation, but rather an initial opportunity to hear questions and concerns from individual members of the public that would need to be addressed in future consultations.

Should schools be identified for closure by the Board, there will also be a school closure consultation process as required by the Ministry of Education under the School Act. This process would include its own series of meetings with the affected school communities.

It is my sincerest hope that this has helped to clarify the Board’s intention, our process, and desire to continue to have respectful relationships with the rural communities we serve.

Sincerely,
Susan Wilson, Board Chair
School District 72 Board of Education