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Feb 16,2007 - Now News


With three of eight schools on the closure list from their community, two Port Moody councillors have decided to present to the School District 43 board during public meetings next week.

Couns. Mike Clay and Meghan Lahti have signed up to the speakers list for Tuesday and Wednesday's special public board meeting on school closures.

While they're not officially representing council, Clay said he is sufficiently concerned about what closing three Port Moody elementary schools could do to the community to present his personal beliefs.

"From the city's perspective, we're trying really hard not to be confrontational (with the school board). We know that it's not our domain, and we have some respect for what they're going through, which isn't easy for anyone," he said.

"But I think some of their calculations are wrong for the growth in Port Moody."

Having talked with parents from throughout the community, Clay said School District 43 is taking too conservative an estimate of how many children are trickling into schools from new developments.

"The units in Port Moody are fairly big, with Suter Brook, Onni and the Polygon development, those are two-, three-, four-bedroom units and they have kids in them," he said. "We know they have kids in them, but they haven't been accounted for specifically because the developments haven't been there long enough for any census or anyone else to know they're there."

Clay also said while a district-wide average shows a live birth rate decline of 1.25 per cent, Moody Centre data indicates an increase as high as six or seven per cent.

Closing schools to consolidate student populations into larger buildings, he added, should also be a philosophical discussion about the quality of education and not cost savings.

"One of my primary concerns is _ that they're trying to put kids in bigger schools. I don't think kids at that age should be at big schools," he said, adding that while local and provincial officials may say they "can direct more resources (in a bigger school) to have a better educational experience for the kids, I don't disagree that that might not be true for a 15- or 16-year-old kid, where you want to have shop and band. But for a five- to eight-year-old kid, I don't think that's a formula that applies."

Clay will most likely be speaking on Wednesday. Lahti, who is speaker No. 63 on the list, will also present during the Wednesday meeting.

published on 02/16/2007

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