LETTER: Reconsider decision to merge high schools

At the June 17 forum regarding school reconfiguration, there were more than a few angry people as a board decision to consolidate our three high schools into one was announced.

The board is paying lip service to consultation process rather than engaging in constructive and meaningful dialogue.

At the first public forum on Nov. 7, the public clearly asked the board to present a detailed plan of reconfiguration, including costs and benefits to our district. We asked that parents and students be represented in this planning committee.

The district parent advisory council also asked for these things in a letter to the board on Sept. 18. Chair Heinrichs responded to our letter saying, “we are only seeking to find out if the public is interested in looking into this possibility.”

She also said, “we had already planned on having a forum at each of our high schools to involve students in addition to public forums and possibly a survey.”

And yet, with no further public input, a decision has now been made by the board to consolidate our three high schools into one by September 2015. Only Trustee Carol Hamilton voiced concern with this lack of process.

Without constructive dialogue with staff, students, and parents, the trustees have decided we will have one secondary school by September 2015. This takes a variety of reasonable options off the table without any consideration such as:

A transition over three years where Grade 7s enter one of two agreed-upon middle schools while students transitioning to Grade 10 move to the designated secondary school.

With the enrolment numbers as they are and the locations of our schools, it might make good sense to continue with a “school within a school” at one location and transition the other two schools. A further transition could happen at that school based on student needs, enrolment numbers, and the ability of the school to deliver programs and courses in the future.

This district needs a thoughtful, well-organized plan that reaches at least  five to 10 years into the future – not a Band-Aid solution to “stop the bleed” of students leaving the district.

It needs to address the unique needs of middle school learners and teachers; it needs to address the academic and vocational needs of our grad program; and enable teachers to teach in their area of specialty.

I ask the board to reconsider driving this process to a predetermined outcome and take the time to listen to staff, students, and parents.

Scott Young

DPAC executive member

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