École Davis Road PAC rejects school district’s reconfiguration proposal

The École Davis Road Parent Advisory Council chair and vice-chair say the K-7 model at their school is thriving.

Editor:

The school board is on the cusp of deciding the 10-year plan for our school facilities in Ladysmith.

The expert report makes recommendations based on the vision of our Ladysmith Senior Secondary (LSS) principal — absorb all Grade 6-7 kids into the high school building and create a K-5 super-school at Ladysmith Primary School (LPS) for Ladysmith’s 500-plus remaining students, closing École Davis Road, Ladysmith Intermediate School (LIS) and LPS. Principal Street is quoted as saying that this reconfiguration should start to happen as early as September 2013, as the plan is broadly supported by a “foundation in place with staff and community partners/families.”

While the school district’s own expert, Dr. Player, recommends that the best school configuration is a K-7/8-12 model, with elementary schools ideally having 275-300 kids, for Ladysmith, the school board is being asked to make filling LSS (which operates at 83-per-cent capacity) the concern which drives remaining school facilities decisions in the town. This is in spite of compelling education research which indicates that there are significant increased negative social consequences when putting 10- to 12-year-old children into a high school setting.

The École Davis Road PAC rejects this vision. For nearly 10 years, we have argued for a two-elementary-school model, with a K-7 French/English program serving the neighbourhood and community at Davis Road. This vision is consistent with that in the town’s Official Community Plan and our recent Town Vision process.

On April 18, over 200 people from Ladysmith showed up at the school board’s public input budget meeting to voice our opposition to the plan to begin implementing these proposals for our school in September 2013. In over two dozen presentations by our school community, we were able to illustrate that there would be no cost savings by dividing our school and [raise] serious concerns with the touted benefits of having Grade 6-7s in the high school environment.

We conducted a survey of over 150 parents about their opinions on the potential reconfiguration. The majority of parents in the English stream told us that if reconfiguration began to be implemented this September, parents will move some 65 children ($550,000) into SD79 or St. Joseph’s.

École Davis Road elementary school model of K-7 is thriving. Children are turned away because of the lack of space, and our dual-track program is a model of success. Our facility needs renewal, not closure.

Please get informed and involved in this issue and do not let one person’s vision drive what is right for all of our children.

Karen Fediuk and Jenny Van Horne

Chair and vice-chair,

École Davis Road PAC