OPEN LETTER: If SD20 won't look out for our kids, then let us do it ourselves
Dear School District 20:
On Jan 15th we were subjected to yet another meeting regarding the funding crisis in SD20. It started as usual with the board presenting numbers and charts that show a) the declining enrolment and b) the cost savings associated with various school closure scenarios.
As for a) there was an admission later in the evening that these projections of numbers have not taken into account families with young children that have been moving and (if we have a school) will continue to move into Rossland for the lifestyle benefits that it offers that is getting so much press as of late. (Best Ski Town in NA, Powder Magazine, NY Times #8 spot in the world to visit 2013 to name a few)
I realize that this is a difficult number to project but your scenarios of closing RSS and schooling all the students down in JLC and using portables to provide enough space doesn’t leave ANY room for any positive migration of new families to move into the entire area. This seems like a dangerous situation to put everyone in.
As for the numbers presented and the supposed justification for closing RSS, every person at that meeting walked away questioning the numbers used in the school closure scenarios. It became plainly obvious that these numbers are nothing more than rough projections when $20 000 was presented as an adequate budget to renovate the Annex to turn it into a 4 classroom facility.
This is a building that is currently being used by the French school with 2 proper classrooms and a 3rd being used that, in addition to a classroom, also acts as a hallway to access the classroom on the far side. This is just one of the points being raised by the French school in their current litigation with their board addressing the inadequacy of the Annex and its failure to satisfy the boards own minimum requirements for the students that it currently holds.
A $20 000 allotment for this in your budget is simply wishful thinking and anyone remotely familiar with the building can see that this number is completely unrealistic. Conversely, a seemingly inflated figure of $80 000 to move the current playground from McLean to RSS makes one question the accuracy of every figure presented and the biases that they appear to show.
This is especially true when you consider the figure projected for the cost of bussing the children down to Trail. There was an admission later in the evening that you were not even sure how many buses it would require and that the route has not even been considered fully. How can you present us with a number that has been pulled out of a hat as part or your calculations on which you are basing your decision?
It’s not difficult to make the point that after all these years of discussion about closing RSS and the resulting cost savings, you still have not presented any evidence to that fact other than large round figures are obviously incompletely researched, grossly biased and completely lacking any sort of professionalism.
After having admitted that you haven’t placed a value on the hour of our children’s day that they will spend on a bus, failed to provide a convincing projection of realistic cost savings, failed to provide a scenario that doesn’t close brick and mortar buildings to be replaced with portables in the future, failed to incorporate any sort of use of technology to bring the teacher to the student, your answer in the year 2013 is to simply close RSS as you’ve proposed all along?
This is something that I cannot accept. I place too high a value on my children’s youth to let them spend an hour of every school day on a bus with no seatbelts on a dangerous mountain pass, to be convinced by your presentation that Rossland’s children should be required to do so.
Think of what a child can accomplish if he were given an extra hour every day. You are charged with the education of our children yet you placed no value for an extra hour for potential learning in a school day in your equation of how to best educate a large portion of your charges. That’s soccer on Monday, Piano on Tuesday, extra Math help on Wednesday, Cubs on Thursday and a bike ride on Friday or any combination that might suit the child and help he or she grow into this world, and I won’t take that away from my children.
If you won’t see fit to put the effort in to find a way to keep RSS open, then please cut us free from SD20 because we meant to take care of our children in a manner that it appears that the board is not prepared to.