Wednesday, February 10, 2010

How I voted and why

Eastwood- I supported the recommendation to consider closure of Eastwood, with the caveat that I thought it was unwise to close both Eastwood and Parkdale, leaving the north east quadrant of the city centre project without an elementary school. Eastwood has an enrolment of 106 and is the smallest elementary in the city centre. Of those, 76 are regular students and 30 are special needs students, some of whom are bussed in from other areas. 27% of the space is utilized. Enrolment has been steadily declining for the past 4 years.
Vote: 7 for, 1 against.

McCauley- I voted against the recommendation. We heard many parents talk about the importance of McCauley and the strong connection to the community. 50% of the students come from refugee and immigrant families and poverty is a pressing issue. A new daycare just opened (1 week ago) on site, which caters specifically to multicultural families. It has 26 children enrolled without even putting up a sign, a clear indication of the need in the area. It was suggested that many of these children will become McCauley students and I believe this would be true (in part due to the transportation barriers many families face in the area but also due to the strong feeling of belonging generated at McCauley).  McCauley has 173 students (K-9) and an early learning site. It is also a recently renovated historic building ($4.5 million) and with the City's revitalization plans for the area, I feel the school has a future, if it is right-sized.
Vote: 6 for, 3 against.

Parkdale- I introduced an amendment to close only the junior high programming at Parkdale and leave it as a functioning elementary to serve both Eastwood and Parkdale communities. My rationale is that in combining the elementary students from Eastwood (110) and those in Parkdale (95), you would have a viable elementary school of 211. Our viability indicators, previously developed, suggest 140 is a viable elementary school. However, our Planning Department said last night that those numbers are no longer relevant in Sector Reviews. My amendment was defeated 7-2.

We then reverted to the original motion to consider closure of Parkdale. I voted against this. I feel this creates too large a catchment area for Delton (the proposed receiving school for both Eastwood and Parkdale). The children in Eastwood and Parkdale would be a long way from their school (over 2 KM) and by my calculation the school would be over capacity. Eastwood 110 + Parkdale 95 + Delton 239 = 439. When you factor in that some of these students have special needs and therefore require lower class sizes... it puts the "weighted capacity" around 518. Delton is rated as having an ACOL capacity (based on Alberta Commission on Learning recommended class sizes) of 480. I disagreed with the planners that there would still be sufficient space to accomodate partners in this school, a vital component for city centre schools.
Vote: 7 for, 2 against.

Closure of Elementary program at Spruce Avenue- I voted against this, although I was torn. On the one hand, I see the benefit of a congregated junior high site at Spruce Avenue. However, Spruce Avenue is a functioning K-9 (303 enrolment), with a very healthy elementary population (153) and a healthy junior high population (150),  meeting both viability indicators for enrolment. It seems unfair to displace elementary students and break apart a functioning school to reconfigure it in this way.
Vote: 7 for, 2 against

Capilano- I voted to support the recommendation. Again, Capilano is a small school (110) and the projected enrolment for next year is 86. This year, there was no grade five class, so that means next year there will be no grade six class. They have few children at the entry level (11 in K. 15 in grade 1) so the future growth did not appear to be there. As well, they have few children in their attendance area (152) and other school options are relatively close by. This was the only unanimous decision by the board.

Fulton Place- I voted against this recommendation. Fulton is a good-sized elementary (218) with an extremely vibrant daycare attached. The parents indicated that they do not wish to have the Logos program offered only at the new K-9 Hardisty School, as proposed. I felt that dismantling a functioning school in order to fill space at the large plant at Hardisty was not a good decision. With the enrolment from Capilano, Hardisty would have sufficient numbers to open up the additional K-4 grades as proposed (397 Hardisty + 110 Capilano = 507). I feel the problem of Haristy's excess space should be dealt with by right-sizing the building.  It is huge!
Vote: 7 for, 2 against.

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