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Mar 16,2007 - Tricity News

By Diane Strandberg The Tri-City News
Mar 16 2007

There was little closure on school closures for parents who packed a school board meeting Tuesday or for Keith Watkins.

The Port Moody trustee called for a legal opinion on the process through which Coquitlam school board made its decisions on school closures or a board decision to revoke the school closure bylaws.

Meanwhile, parents of students at the five schools that will close at the end of June have until today to figure out what schools their children will attend in September.

The deadline is necessary for schools to plan transitions for students over the next several weeks. Assistant superintendent Sylvia Russell said many schools are already organizing special events to welcome new students and have been meeting with families and offering school tours.

“There have been many supportive visits and gestures,” Russell said.

By the end of March, School District 43 expects to know how many students plan to attend receiving schools or others outside their new catchment areas.


But it will be April 3, the next school board meeting, before trustees will vote on Watkins’ notice of motion to repeal the school closure bylaws or have a legal review of the process.

Watkins said trustees didn’t follow Robert’s Rules when they voted to close schools because a 2003 decision to review enrolment in June 2007 hadn’t been rescinded. He also made several amendments to the minutes from the Feb. 27 closure meeting, saying, “If there is litigation down the road, these minutes will be reviewed by a lawyer.”

About 30 parents packed the school board meeting room to see if trustees would reconsider their decision to close College Park, Coronation Park, Lincoln, Millside and Vanier elementary schools

Parent Reece Harding told trustees moving College Park students to Seaview when it is about to undergo a 12- to 16-month seismic renovation would be disruptive to their education and would even violate district’s school closure policy.

He also asked why seismic repairs weren’t raised during the school closure process and why funding was approved when the Seaview’s utilization rate without College Park students is only 51%.

“There is a void of information in your materials to address this,” he said.


Parents were told the consolidation of College Park and Seaview students will go ahead even though seismic repairs – expected to cost more than $1 million – will start this summer and the entire 2007/’08 school year. Four portables, at a cost of between $60,000 and $100,000, will be placed on site to accommodate students during construction.

SD43 secretary treasurer Lorcan O’Melinn said College Park won’t be used for classrooms during the repairs because the principals, in discussion with the facilities and project managers, opted to keep the school community together.

He also explained that the issue of consolidating schools during a seismic upgrade wasn’t raised during the school closure process because administrators didn’t know for sure if College Park was going to be closed.

Still, parent Cathy Burton wasn’t convinced. “Why not keep College Park open one more year?” she asked.

Board chair and PoMo trustee Melissa Hyndes said reversing the closure decision “would have to come as a motion before the board.”


Coronation Park parents asked why their school wasn’t being kept open like Moody elementary for another year until after Port Moody’s official community plan is complete, when more development information will be available.

O’Melinn said PoMo’s projections are for more development in Moody Centre, not in the Coronation Park neighbourhood. He also defended the district’s reliance on Matrix Planning Associates for enrolment projections, stating the consulting company has been accurate in predicting numbers of school children in the past.

“We believe the numbers we provided in our enrolments are very solid,” O’Melinn said.

Port Coquitlam Coun. Greg Moore asked why the district was considering spending money on a technology plan instead of keeping neighbourhood schools open.

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