Emotions ran high as parents in Ladysmith shared their input with school trustees and school district staff as the public consultation around the proposed school changes winds down.
School District 68 held a public forum for its Proposed 10-Year Enhanced Facilities for Learning Plan June 17 at Ladysmith Secondary School (LSS), and parents were broken into discussion groups around the proposed changes.
Many parents objected to the proposal to close École Davis Road (EDR) in June 2014 and consolidate with Ladysmith Intermediate School (LIS), which would then become a dual-track K-5 elementary school. Under the proposed plan, all Ladysmith elementary schools would move to a new facility to be built on the Ladysmith Secondary site in 2017.
One elementary school in town — which would have a capacity of around 500 students — was not a favourable option for many.
Garth Buffie has twins who are now in Grade 8 at Ladysmith Secondary School and who attended EDR.
“The reason we moved [to the south end of Ladysmith] and bought a house there is École Davis Road,” he said. “We appreciate the school. We want to see that it stays there.”
Buffie raises concerns about Grade 6 students moving to high school and said he doesn’t want to see south-end children bused across town and having less access to after-school programs.
École Davis Road parents also pointed out that their school is a safer building than Ladysmith Intemediate School.
École Davis Road parent Aaron Stone noted that the proposal doesn’t take into account growth that is projected in Ladysmith.
“There are three main areas of development coming on line in Ladysmith — it seems this plan was made in a bubble, unresponsive to other community planning,” he said. “The K-5 school would essentially be at or over capacity the day it opens if all this development occurs — if you can keep the families coming because one school is not very attractive.”
The proposed plan also calls for reconfiguring LSS as a Grade 6-12 school, focusing the Grade 6-8 students on a middle school philosophy, as of September 2014.
Many parents expressed strong concerns with moving Grade 6 and 7 students to a high school. One thing parents brought up is the fact that they haven’t been given any information about how this would look.
“Other districts have backed away from the middle school model in schools that even had walls to separate them,” said Jeremy Kerr. “The very fact that you have to put up walls to to separate our children says these are groups that should not be merged.”