Saturday, July 28, 2007

Community Use to Save Schools

The School Board says it can't afford to keep schools open with low enrolment, but it seems to me that they've never really considered other sources of income. Renting schools during the summer months, weekends and after-hours could generate the needed shortfall to keep schools open. There are so many wonderful resources within a school: gymnasiums are obvious, but computer labs, art rooms, music rooms, even the staff rooms can be used by groups and organizations. I could see seniors updating their computer skills, immigrant families taking ESL classes in their own community, at risk youth playing late night basketball, clubs holding their weekly meetings and young mothers receiving parenting support. The current booking system needs to be changed, to make it more user-friendly. Principals and teaching staff need to be educated on the benefits of community use and the cost of the custodian needs to be factored into the rental agreement. But these are all minor adjustments in the face of the upheaval and community damage done by closing a school. There are always alternatives.

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