In a fit of educational patriotism, I’ve managed to end up as Treasurer of the “Parents of Prince Street,” the home and school association at Oliver’s school. We had our first executive meeting of the year yesterday, and the first general meeting (for parents, guardians, and others) will be Tuesday, October 7th at 6:30 p.m. at the school.
The focus of the meeting will be discussion of the Provincial Enrollment Study, its implications for Prince Street School, and how the home and school association should formally respond.
Apparently there is now “political will” on Prince Edward Island to start closing schools, and the Enrollment Study is the founding document of this effort, and of a broader effort to re-zone and rationalize the Island’s school infrastructure. It seems like most everything is on the table: closing schools, changing the grades offered by individual schools, changing the school that students in a given neighbourhood attend and so on.
It doesn’t take much imagination to realize that something significant is going to change in downtown Charlottetown, where we have five elementary schools in very close proximity:
These five schools — Prince Street, St. Jean, West Kent, Parkdale and Spring Park — are projected to have a combined enrollment, in 2012, of 888 students in attending schools with a combined capacity of 2,300 (it was noted at our meeting that the “capacity” numbers in the Enrollment Study are theoretical only, and don’t account for alternate uses of classroom space that have evolved over the years for things like libraries, computer labs and so on).
There’s no doubt that there’s going to be “school nationalism” in evidence in the year ahead as those with strong connections to their local school rally for it to be “saved,” regardless of practical concerns. But, as we’ve seen with the efforts by parents in the Souris area, this doesn’t need to be the case, and a proactive move by parents to look honestly and thoughtfully at the school infrastructure and propose plans which work will both for educational concerns, and for neighbourhoods can result in a way forward that doesn’t necessarily mean school-on-school in-fighting.
If you’re a parent at Prince Street, I encourage you to come out on Tuesday to discuss these issues, and learn more about the possibilities.