LETTER: The consequences of closing Trafalgar

I am feeling quite upset and frustrated with the school board’s decision to close schools in our district.

Re: “Parents plead for Winlaw, W.E. Graham, Jewett”

As a parent, teacher and concerned member of society, I am feeling quite upset and frustrated with the school board’s decision to close schools in our district. An article in last week’s Star stated Trafagar’s PAC has accepted the closure of Trafalgar. I don’t believe that all parents have “accepted” the closure of Trafalgar Middle School.

Not all parents are happy with Trafalgar’s anticipated closure. Teachers are not all unanimously happy with Grade 6s and 7s moving into the K-5 elementary schools. Specialist teachers are mourning the demise of those specialized classes: band, drama, shop, cooking, outdoor rec, all the classes that kids have had a choice in taking in middle school.

Don’t be fooled; these are not classes that can easily or at all be implemented in an elementary setting. Not all parents are happy their kids are staying back in elementary schools. I can’t imagine parents are happy that their kids will lose the opportunity to take specialized classes in a middle school setting, therefore our students in this district will not be receiving the kind of education that they deserve.

Parents of young elementary children: Have you thought about what the Trafalgar closure will mean for your young child in two years? Your elementary school will be full to bursting with no rooms for grade group learning, likely no fine arts classroom, and older kids in the school creating an entirely different ambience in the school, not to mention at recess time.

Parents of Grade 8-12 students in a couple of years: Do you realize there was nothing in the budget talks about adding onto LVR? No new lockers, no new rooms, bathrooms, not even portables. What is going to happen to my child who will be in Grade 9 when all this supposedly comes down? It makes me sick to see her education getting worse and worse and it seems that no one on our school board is standing up for her and the hundreds of other students who will suffer from this short sighted closure.

Finally, parents, there is no guarantee that there will be a rebuild of South Nelson. The government will gladly take the $24 million that our school board is so diligently saving for them, and they will not likely give our board $11 million to rebuild South Nelson. They will give it to the coastal schools for seismic upgrades, and to Surrey with their exploding student population. Perhaps that is why our school board wants to put an English track K-7 at Central school, because they know that the chance of a South Nelson rebuild is not good, and that way there will be a school in uphill when South Nelson closes.

I’ve taught in K-5, K-6, K-7, 6-8, 7-9, 7-12, 8-12 and 9-12 schools, so I do have a bit of experience in what goes on. Grade 7s are big kids. The rooms in most elementary schools can’t properly accommodate Grade 7s. It can be argued that years ago there were Grade 7s at Hume School; but one begs to ask the question: Why were they moved up to a middle school? Because at that age, the best practice for those students is changing teachers, changing classrooms, specialized classes, and a transition time before high school.

What is happening in our district is not the best thing for our students; it is happening because according to law, our school board has to balance a budget (or they are fired), and they are closing schools to balance it. It’s too bad that they feel that they can’t follow the brave lead of the Vancouver School Board, and stand up to this government, which has seen over 250 schools close over the last fifteen years because of this government’s inefficiency in long term planning and continued underfunding of our public education system.

What if, just, what if, all the school boards in BC stood up to this government which has over the last 15 years, systematically destroyed our public school system?

Lisa Backus, Nelson

 

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