See below for an excellent article by Brendan Quinn of the Nelson Daily regarding the draft plan coming out tonight at the special open board meeting at the board office in Nelson (5pm). The Yasodhara Ashram Society wrote a long, compelling and very well-thought-out letter regarding this proposal. Erin Cristofoli and Ingrid Baetzel will be present at the meeting tonight and will report the results as soon as possible. (Watch here and Mainstreet’s Facebook page to see whether the scenario of making CBESS into a K-9 school has remained in the draft plan, despite loud community outcry, or not)
Kootenay Lake School Board set to announce facilities draft plan
Kootenay Lake School District 8 board will announce its draft plan Tuesday during a Special Board Meeting as they move forward with the next round of public meetings discussing the future of schools in the Nelson area.
The meeting is scheduled for Tuesday at 5 p.m.
According to Kootenay Lake Secretary Treasurer Kim Morris, the board has been receiving a lot of responses regarding their scenario scoring plan, with public opinion ranging from positive and encouraging to “let’s get on with it and make a decision.”
“Since the last round of public meetings we’ve received lots of feedback from all over the place from all kinds,” said Morris.
“We’ve asked the public for feedback around the scenario scoring and whether they can support it or not in their particular neighbourhood and if they’d thought of any further scenarios that we should be looking at,” she said.
Facilities meetings begin Wednesday (March 30) at Winlaw Elementary before shifting Thursday (March 31) to Salmo Secondary.
The following week meetings continue at Central School Gym in Nelson (April 4), Prince Charles Auditorium in Creston (April 6) and at the J.V. Humphries School (April 7).
Meeting times are 6:30-9 p.m. local time.
Morris said that the board has examined these responses meticulously and will be ready to come forward with a solid plan during Tuesday’s Special Board Meeting.
While some constituents have been happy with the process, some are worried about what some of the likely scenarios will mean for their communities.
“In terms of unhappiness there have been some communities, of course, where a closure is contemplated,” Morris said.
In particular, the scenarios involving schools like Jewett Elementary in Meadow Creek and Crawford Bay Elementary/Secondary, the latter potentially facing a moving of the Grad program (Grades 10-12) to L.V. Rogers High School in Nelson, are causing some concern for parents and students attending those schools.
A brief prepared by the Yasodhara Ashram Society elucidates on these concerns and “make suggestions for amendments to the current methodology and scope for School District 8’s facilities planning process.”
In the brief, the YAS states that they consider the SD8 initiative to be a “necessary and prudent exercise of responsibility,” but take issue with the potential reconfiguring of Crawford Bay Elementary School.
“The scenarios emerging from the SD8 process are seriously compromised by the limited mandate of the planning exercise, particularly when related to a small, rural community like Crawford Bay (and by extension to the East Shore),” the briefing explained.
The document suggests that the removal of Grades 10-12 from CBESS may have far reaching impacts, including parents of children currently attending CBESS being forced to move from the East Shore if their children are required to go to a different school.
The YAS recommends that the current plan for CBESS be reviewed by separate organizations like the Regional District of Central Kootenay and the BC Assessment Authority, as they feel property values may also be affected.
The brief also suggests a scenario that has not been examined yet by the board as another option that should be looked at.
“There is a scenario that SD8 should have scored but did not: revitalizing CBESS. A compelling argument can be made that enhancing the CBESS post-secondary programs and services is justified. What if the 53% underutilization at CBESS were seen as an opportunity?”
Despite the apprehension regarding some of the specific scenarios, Morris stands by the process and said that it’s important not to speed through the procedure and stresses that the parties involved look carefully at each individual plan.
“I don’t think we’re necessarily in a rush, I think we’ve taken a pretty thoughtful and consultative process and I think we want to carry on with that,” Morris said.
“Everybody is excited to get to the next point in the process but it’s important that we still stick to our process and stick to the public feedback and make sure that we’re not rushing an important decision that’s going to affect the next decade.”