Feb 21,2007 - Tri City News

By Diane Strandberg The Tri-City News
Feb 21 2007

Parent advisory councils at eight Tri-City elementary schools being considered for closure got some reassurances that programs and services will survive even if some schools close.

In a statement made to parents and PACs this week, officials promised to consider issues such as relocating daycares and community services, and making sure students have individual transition plans to meet their needs.

“The school district will continue to work to accommodate student and parent needs throughout the transition period and will address the expressed program and service needs,” reads a statement on transitions sent to schools this week.

The statement was included in information sent to trustees and the eight schools being considered for closure in binders along with details about each school’s enrolment, utilization rates, operational costs and financial savings predicted to result from closure. Parent concerns and suggestions collected during two rounds of parent meetings were also included, and will be forwarded to trustees.

On-site daycares and provincially-funded meal programs at vulnerable schools were some programs parents were afraid of losing. Parents listed many positive attributes of their schools, such as a good team of teachers, a sense of community spirit and safety, many extra curricular programs and proximity to homes, which makes it easier for students to walk to school and even come home for lunch in some instances.

But information circulated to schools also shows the schools, ranging in size from 86 students at College Park in Port Moody to 157 at Lincoln in Port Coquitlam, are much smaller than the 300 to 400 optimum size identified by the school district in 2001. And six of the eight schools are in areas where the combined student population amounts to a utilization rate of 65% or less.

Closing the schools would save about $2 million, according to the report.