Thursday, October 25, 2007

Susan Semonick On Schools - October 24th Town Hall Meeting re HD Stafford

The meeting started at 7 pm and lasted until just past 10 pm. There were approximately 650 people present. They asked for a show of hands and there was a fair representation of the community outside of parents and students at the Town Hall Meeting. I did not see any Township councillors there; I did see the CUPE and LTA representatives and the three trustees who support the community of HDS keeping their secondary school.

Most of the presentations were a repeat of what we heard at the Board meetings. What was most important though was that no one was rushed – the presenters were able to give their presentation in its entirety. We all know that HDS is an excellent school. We know the proposal has not been backed with appropriate financial numbers or sound educational findings. We know that 4 trustees did not find it important enough to show up to show that they are more than willing to listen - a very, very bad political move on their part. We know that not all trustees live where they are elected but they are to represent and support students’ education in the district as a whole, not who marks your ballot in the City or Township.

This is the very reason I believe the ballots for the Langley Board of Education should be amalgamated and I hope the Minister of Education will see the validity of my request after all this. All constituents within the one school district should be able to elect ALL trustees.

Since one trustee has stated that they have been flooded with calls in support of the middle school proposal, I wonder why these people have not been public. They must have a special number or address as the people I have spoken with tell me that their calls and emails to this trustee have been unanswered. I certainly have not heard of a pro-middle school petition. The only public presentation supporting the proposal has been from the Langley Secondary School Parent Advisory Council executive members. There have also been a couple of letters to local paper. It calls to question to trust what trustees say but then I guess they lost public trust about 9 months ago.

The absence of some trustees speaks for itself. For many, what it says is that they have no idea what consultation and communication is and what a real decision-making process is. For Board Chair Mr. Burton to say that he has not received any viable options is wrong in my opinion. Is he backward-slapping Ms. Beaumont who has already given four options, which she has stated in her report are all viable? Is this not the report that he and his cohorts accepted when three other trustees did not? Or, is it as many have suspected all along, that his mind was made up long ago despite having repeatedly made explicit statements to the contrary?

The thing is, I have even presented an option on this blog that is viable and would be looking more to the future than any of the previous options and which would solve a lot, if not all, of the problems they are presently attempting to fix. Taking the middle school road will only exacerbate the situation and make things far worse. There is no proven model for a stand-alone Grade 12 program, however transitional - do they really believe that it does not matter what happens to those students? The four trustees will certainly be put to the test to see if they can demonstrate why they are sitting in those seats - a NO vote is for the students - a Yes vote is for no good reason.

Tid Bits of History - Langley Secondary School was built in 1948. H.D. Stafford was built in 1970.
Tid Bits on Education-
Respectfully submitted by
Susan Semonick

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