Thursday, March 11, 2010

Parkdale Meeting re; possible closure

Last night, we were at Parkdale School (11648 85 Street).

Here are some of the comments I took away from the meeting:

- Frustration that the Notice of Meeting was not sent to community members. It was only sent to parents of children currently attending the school, although many more people consider the school "theirs" and feel they should have also received the package.

-A lot of comments about the contradictory nature of the city investing in revitalizing the 118 Avenue area and the school board considering closing the school.

- Suggestions to merge Eastwood and Parkdale as they both offer the year-round modified calendar and have community connections and similarities.

-Transportation concerns, including the challenge for children in after-school care, who will not be able to catch the afternoon bus. How will these children get home? (This was something I had not considered before.)

-Suggestion to turn Parkdale into a multi-use facility, so the school is housed in one portion of the school and the rest is used for community events, purposes, money-generating leases, etc.

-Request to advocate to the province to change its utilization/capacity rate (ACU) as it unfairly penalizes older schools with wide hallways and full-sized gyms.

-Why won't EPSB start the conversation on the positive note: "How can we keep the school open?" rather than starting the conversation with the possibility of closure. All documents, slides, etc. seem biased towards closure. (Much of this material is mandated by the School Act.)

-This area has no community league. The school is an essential focal point and heart of the community; without the school, what will happen to the community?

-The school is one year shy of its 100th birthday and is in pretty good shape. How do we preserve and value our history?

There was frustration expressed towards the end of the meeting. People wanted to speak, not through the facilitator, but directly to the board and the administration. The removal of the open mic format is a point of contention for some. Others prefer the non-confrontational style of the small table format.

Another meeting tonight- Spruce Avenue. This is an exhausting schedule. I wonder where the breaking point is...for me, for the communities, for our staff, for the parents, for our administrators.

Three more to go.

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