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BC Minister of Education HONOURABLE Peter Fassbender PO BOX 9045 STN PROV GOVT Victoria, BC V8W 9E2

August 8, 2012

Re: Ten Year Facilites Plan-School District 68 Nanaimo


Dear Mr. Fassbender; As stated above I am writing you with regards to the ten year facilities plan recently adopted and approved by the Board of Trustees for School District 68. I am a former Chief Administrative Officer for the North Cedar Improvement District, having served in that capacity for 10 years and am now retired. As a former Administrator I know first hand about creating and implementing balanced budgets as well as the creation of both ten year and twenty year capital plans. I also have a decade of experience with always striving to keep tax increases to a minimum and only do so when it is absolutely necessary. I only give this information so you will understand that I personally recognize the difficulties both facing the school district boards and the Ministry of Education when faced with making extremely tough decisions. Having said that, my approach for the decade I was an administrator was always What is the biggest bang for our buck with the LEAST impact on the taxpayers. This mandate was adopted by the Board of Trustees as well when we were making difficult decisions and in my personal opinion, it should be the mandate of every board in British Columbia that is in charge of making decisions that impact the tax payers and citizens of our province. Based on the approach of what is the biggest bang for our buck with the least impact on the citizens, in this case the students and parents within School District 68 when applied to the ten year facilities plan, this approach fails terribly. Lets face it, this is all about the money and to imply it is not is being dishonest. These terribly hard decisions have everything to do with money and budgets and little to do with lack of educational opportunities, which is what School District 68 Trustees claims is their real reason for closing four schools in Cedar. It has been the position of both the Ministry of Education and School District 68 that declining enrollment is the biggest reason cited for closing schools, NOT lack of educational opportunities over the last 15 years at least. It is unfair of this School District to change the goal posts at the eleventh hour to suit their purpose and that is exactly what they have done here by claiming its not lack of enrollment but lack of educational opportunities, when they know the numbers are all here in Area A and Cedar. Based on the real reason for school closures which is lack of money as well as taking the approach of what is the biggest bang for our buck with the least impact on students, lets take a look at this latest decision by School District 68. They have decided to close South Wellington School (64 students), Woodbank Elementary (154 students), North Cedar Intermediate School (178 students) and close our high school, (453 students) but keep North Oyster school open (82 students). The reason for keeping North Oyster open according to them is it was only built in 1990 but renovating a school built in 2001 namely our high school is a better choice according to the trustees. The 453 high school students are to be bussed to a school in Nanaimo and all the other schools accept North Oyster are to be put in the high school together for a total of 396 students based on the numbers from 2013. The board has approved spending 1.5 million to

renovate a school that is only 12 years old and has nothing wrong with it in anyway accept it is not an elementary school, it was built to be used as a high school. While I am fully aware that closing any school is a very tough choice and one that pits parents against parents in efforts to save the schools they love (something in my opinion the Ministry should be ashamed of as its you who have created this atmosphere) surely you can see based on the numbers WHY this community is so extremely distressed. Please explain to us why closing three of the four schools was not looked at, creating one elementary school of 478 students if North Oyster was to be amalgamated in those numbers and leaving the high school intact with 453 students. All students with in Area A and Cedar would at least get to attend school in their own community from K-12. Why is the community of Cedar and ALL residents of Area A being denied the right to have their children attend school from kindergarden to grade twelve IN THEIR COMMUNITY. Please explain why the 1.5 million cannot be used to renovate one of the current elementary schools proposed for closure in order to make it work for over 478 elementary children. Or better yet, why was the 1.5 million not used to renovate two elementary schools with around 250 students in each which School District 68 states by bylaw is a viable number for an elementary school. That is the School District 68s bylaw and numbers THEY have created and WE HAVE THOSE NUMBERS. Why on earth would you agree that displacing 453 high school students as well as 396 elementary school children is the better decision when you consider the biggest bang for our buck with the LEAST impact on students. Again, I recognize closing any school is painful but also understand tough decisions HAVE to be made. Tough decisions, not downright terrible ones that totally impact an entire community and a large number of students unnecessarily such as this ten year facilities plan has and will. This school district board made a decision that impacted the greatest number of students, spending money to renovate a school that does not need it and refuses to engage this community in ANY discussion on their decision. Hardly the biggest bang for our buck with the least impact on students and the numbers speak for themselves. Lastly, if the lack of educational opportunities is the stance that you the Ministry and the School District 68 trustees insist on touting as your reason for this gross negligence of our public school system in Cedar and Area A then you need to explain to the 1100 students you have just impacted with this decision WHY THAT IS. Why is there lack of educational opportunities in our schools in this area, we have the student numbers as cited above we are not expected to know those answers as parents but you the Ministry and School District are expected to know these answers. You and your staff and the School District Trustees are the experts and it is your job and mandate to offer viable solutions WITHOUT hurting students and to engage citizens with answers to their very valid questions. You work for us and instead its the citizens working day and night trying to get answers, reading studies and reports, attending meetings and creating committees offering viable solutions that fall on the deaf ears of elected officials and publicly funded managers, staff and consultants. I understand your response has been you can vote them out in November of 2014 and thats the only option you have and I call on you sir to do much better than that. Surely you do not insult all of our collective intelligence with such a terrible response as this, we need your intervention, we need answers and we cannot afford to wait until another election as you are fully aware and it is our right as the taxpayers to ask. You work for us. I am asking for the Minister to step in and put a hold on the ten year facilities plan until all options have been explored with a committee appointed by the people of Area A, a delegation representing Snueymeux First Nations and School District 68. That sir is democracy at work and is a fair request. Thank you, Lynnia Clark