REPORTING · 9th December 2010
The School board met on December 8th for their regular meeting in the school board offices in Terrace. The Boardroom was packed with residents with only standing room remaining and people standing at the doorway. After a quick election, Barry Pankhurst was re-named School Board Chair and Art Erasmus was selected for the position of Vice Chair.
School Closures and reconfigurations were the topics for New Business. The consideration to close Thornhill Junior Secondary School and Roy Wilcox in Kitimat were at the top of the list and the reconfiguration to the middle schools followed.
While there was debate on the issue, Trustee Art Erasmus pointed out the student population was reducing in numbers and still had to pay for the buildings. Trustee Tanis Kilpatrick said costs are quickly rising and the closures were necessary to maintain services.
Pankhurst stepped down from the Chair to point out they have not fully addressed the safety concerns brought forth by the Kitimat parents for students who have to walk to school.
Dianne Penner countered how Nechako would be a benefit to the students of Roy Wilcox and provide them a better education. She also said the two schools were close to one another.
Raymond Raj agreed the safety concerns had not been met and he was unwilling to risk the safety of the students. The motion however received three readings and Roy Wilcox is now slated for closure.
With much more debate, closing Thornhill Junior Secondary School was tabled to a future meeting as a vote to move this forward did not get the required unanimous support.
On the topic of middle schools, Kilpatrick pointed out there was uncertainty of where the money would come from. She pointed out the schooling model was not broken and did not need to be fixed. She also argued she had done research and found middle schools would not to work as well as they were told.
The rest of the board spoke favourably claiming; this would help support the requirements set by the Ministry of Education, be better for the students and would be a step forward for the schools. Both motions were carried.
At the end of the meeting, Pankhurst asked the parents not to blame the school board as the school boards across the province were not receiving enough funds to properly run their schools.
“We have to live within our means by school act. We don’t have a choice in the matter,” said Pankhurst.