Sunday, January 29, 2006

Letter to The Editor - January 29, 2006 - From Bruce Northway - School District Plan

(We post letters to the editor prominently sent to our attention. EDITOR-LFP)

Here are three ‘Letters to the Editor’. The first is from me (Bruce Northway) and was printed in both the Advance and Times. The second is a response from the School District that was printed in the Advance. The third is my response sent to the Advance today and not yet printed.

Jan 25 2006

On Jan. 17, our school trustees voted unanimously in favour of reviewing whether they should close South Carvolth Elementary. The process will be tortuous for everyone involved, and I feel for the students, parents, staff and trustees.

It’s quite possible that when taken in context of what is best for the Langley School District the closure of a school with under 100 students is worth the $300,000 savings envisioned by the district’s brain trust. That said I still have a problem with the announcement of the review.

During the recent campaign, each and every trustee candidate promised an elevated
communication level with the community. As well, this new board has not yet created a strategic plan. In fact, the district’s website has a strategic plan posted on it that is dated 2003-2005.

A few questions come to mind. Where did the idea to close this school come from? Why close a school prior to the board publishing a new long-term strategic plan? Is the community going to be involved in the planning process?

It is obvious that the timing of the review is based on wanting to have it completed in conjunction with this year’s budgetary process. This makes common sense. But I believe it also indicates a less than attractive planning process that is looking more short-term from within than long-term in partnership with the community. I hope I’m proven wrong.

Bruce Northway,Langley City

Dear Editor,
Your correspondent suggested Langley School District is operating without a long term strategic plan in place [Community communication lacking, Jan. 24 Letters, Langley Advance]. He noted that the Strategic Plan posted on the Langley School District web site is for the years 2003-2005.

The Strategic Plan of Langley School District is a key document, guiding the efforts of the school district to improve student success.

The 2003-2005 document was updated continuously through the term of the last school board, and many of the items listed in the plan were achieved during its term of office.

Readers can find out more by going to A "backgrounder" on that page notes that the Strategic Planning Cycle will result in a 2006-2009 Strategic Plan, as the new board, inaugurated in December of 2005, consults with communities and stakeholders and determines what its planning priorities should be. That document should be available by the spring of this year.

Other planning and consultation processes implemented by the district include: the Accountability Contract, School Planning Councils, and the Budget Planning Process, all of which can be accessed on the district web site or by phoning the School Board Office at 604-534-7891.
Langley School District encourages public involvement in its decision-making processes.

Craig Spence, Communications Manager, Langley School District
published on 01/27/200

I was surprised to see the Langley School District Communications Manager responded to my last ‘Letter to the Editor’. I was more surprised to see the District missed the point of my letter.

The District’s response focused on my observation that their Strategic Plan is out of date. It did not address my main concerns. One of these was that the Trustees voted to review closing South Carvolth Elementary prior to publishing the new 2006-2009 Strategic Plan. It seems obvious to me it makes more sense to produce a long term plan prior to closing any facilities.

I also asked if the community is going to be involved in the planning process. In his letter the Communications Manager stated that the Board ‘consults with communities and stakeholders’. To my knowledge past Strategic Plans were produced by the Trustees and the District’s bureaucrats brainstorming over a weekend. There was little if any consultation with the general public.

The Communications Manager also stated that the ‘District encourages public involvement in its decision-making processes’, yet during the last campaign the Trustee candidates heard over and over again the public’s main complaint; a lack of communication.

It is easy to state you encourage public involvement. Our Trustees need to follow up on their promise to do more than past Boards to make sure that involvement takes place.

Bruce Northway
Langley City

Mr. Northway was an unsucsesful first time candidate for School board in the November 2005 municipal elections and is a frequent commentator, critic and community activist focused on helping to improve all aspects of the Langley School District. - Editor LFP

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