Save Our School (or not…)

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.


Ann Thurlow's picture
Ann Thurlow on October 3, 2008 - 15:49 Permalink

I actually think schools are a community issue and not just a parental issue.
I think, at some point, the larger community should be invited to participate in this discussion.

Jane's picture
Jane on October 3, 2008 - 16:36 Permalink

I’m definitely with you on that, Ann.

Wayne's picture
Wayne on October 6, 2008 - 13:24 Permalink

LOL…do they teach how to talk outta both sides of your mouth in school, or is that something you are born with? Like, I was against formal school education before I was for it? My, how wanting to look trendy can make one wear such different clothes.

But, who cares how one finds the right path, as long as it happens.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on October 6, 2008 - 13:41 Permalink

It seems pretty clear that if the “larger community” wants to have a role in the discussion, it should seize the opportunity itself: the guidance that we got was that the decisions about schools will be made from a “programming” perspective, and “neighbourhood issues” aren’t, I think, high on the list.

Ann Thurlow's picture
Ann Thurlow on October 6, 2008 - 16:07 Permalink

I am not clear where that guidance came from. The main, oft cited reason for keeping schools open (even when they had fewer than 100 students) is the impact on the community of having no school there at all. As in, when does a community — with no communal institutions — cease to become a community? Believe me when I tell you this is the prime motivating force for keeping small schools open. This is a perspective that might be brought to the table by people other than parents. Maybe there are potential parents who would like to be included. Maybe real estate agents? I don’t know.
It just seems to me that, if we’re all gonna pay for it, we should have the opportunity to have a say. It’s a community issue.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on October 6, 2008 - 18:09 Permalink

The “guidance” I referred to came from the principal of the school, and it may be that the perspective through which he is looking at the situation is limited to programming, and that others within the school administration hierarchy are charged with looking at the situation through different views.

As I understand it, the next steps in this process are for the Superintendent to prepare a report, with input from stakeholders, which will then go through a public hearing or forum process, which will then be considered by the Board of Education, which will then make recommendations to Executive Council, which will then make the final decisions.