Monday, February 16, 2009

Susan Semonick On Schools - Langley Middle Schools - Let's Get It Right For The Kids' Sake!

Having heard and read as much as I can about the current issue in this district, there are several questions that come to mind that I think need answers.

1. Regarding the school timetable, which would sync with the high school, the blocks are roughly 77 to 80 minutes long. This is a long block even for high school students. Will these blocks be broken up into two sessions, or other shorter time frames when teaching?

2. How will the grade 8s (in the 2009-2010 school year) receive the additional 23 minutes of instruction per day?

3. Do parents understand that for the 2009-2010 school year, the current grade 7s will be attending ACSS and will NOT be attending the middle school because there is no space for them until the following 2010-2011 school year?

4. The current enrolment of Grade 4 at Betty Gilbert Elem. (next year’s Grade 5s) is 35 students. Will they be in a single class next year? What about class size and composition issues?

Betty Gilbert 32 42 50

Parkside 57 64 67

Shortreed 38 35 35

Total 127 141 152 Capacity 387

Roughly 4 grade 5 classes, 5 grade 6 classes, and 5 grade 7 classes for the first year of BG Middle school operations (a transition year)
The district is expecting another decrease in enrolment next year so perhaps they are anticipating just enough declines for a snug fit for 2009 – 2010.

5. Do parents understand that the school will be “very full” and there will likely be at least one permanent class in the gym, library, and/or computer lab? I was told that there would be no portables added to Betty Gilbert Middle.

6. How does the district believe that the French Immersion program can be sustained at the secondary level with only one class feeding into it? Is the district truly anticipating increasing the FI program to two classes per grade? How will this affect the regular English program in terms of funding? Does the district intend to subsidize the FI program by running smaller classes to accommodate less than full class enrolments (60 students per cohort)? What about declining enrolment and maintaining a viable FI program for the long term in this area? Is this just a stop gap remedy?

7. Do parents understand that for the first year of the middle school operations (2009-2010), students will NOT be attending ACSS for their exploration classes? So just what exactly is being planned for 2009-2010 in terms of delivering the exploration courses to the grades 6 and 7s?

8. Will the SEA’s who will be escorting the students to ACSS in the second year of operations be the same ones that are attached to students as part of their duties? Or will additional SEA’s be hired? If this is the case, why not less costly noon hour supervisors?

9. The elementary schools may not close if early Kindergarten eventually becomes a reality. The secondary school is another matter. ACSS capacity is 1100. Current enrolment is 925.
In 2009-2010 there will be 141 fewer students when the grade 7s stay back at Betty Gilbert to be in middle school. ACSS will be emptier still. What are the plans to use that extra space? Is this sustainable?

I hope that the parents of these students directly involved will find this informative and relative to the situation.

Contrary to what some have been saying, this is not just about Aldergrove and their students. The recent motion was to do a district wide review regarding middle schools. It is about middle schools across the district. Moreover, according to a couple of trustees, it is an all or nothing proposition.

This is a concern for all Langley parents and community members who care about what may happen to their child and/or grandchild's education. No one should get angry with other Langley residents who can foresee the impact this might have on the young minds and hearts they have in their care and are also voicing their opinions. What the Board decides to do will affect all Langley students.

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