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SRSB Votes to Review 3 Schools for Closure

posted Feb 22, 2011, 8:05 AM by Concerned Parents   [ updated Feb 24, 2011, 5:47 AM ]
For those of you unable to attend last night (February 21)'s Regular Board Meeting of the Strait Regional School Board, you may be shocked to learn that the Board Members voted down a motion (8-4) to allow a public presentation precede the Board's vote to initiate the School Review Process to close three community schools: Rev. H.J. MacDonald (Heatherton), Canso Academy, and West Richmond Education Centre.

Yet later in the meeting Board Members bemoaned the poor public turnout at Board Financial Information Sessions, expressing how important it is for the Board to get public input.  The Board Member who spoke most passionately about the need for public input at the financial sessions was also one of Board Members who voted against hearing from Save Community Schools last night, even though several Save Community Schools representatives were in attendance at the Board's financial information session in Antigonish last week - Save Community Schools has shown its interest in working with this Board and the Board pays only lip service to its desire to hear from us.  Actions speak louder than words, and last night's actions of the Elected Board Members and senior Administrators of the Strait Regional School Board speak volumes!

Although several Board Members raised questions about the Screening Report, which served as the foundation of the recommendations to initiate the School Review Process, including substantive issues, such as the fact that Criteria 3 was not appropriately applied to the schools, but we will let you decide for yourselves:

Criteria as defined in the SRSB's Screening Process:
"The facility operating cost per student per square foot is significantly higher than the system average."

The rating applied to support this criteria by the SRSB's Administration and Staff:
"Schools which have facility operating costs in excess of $1000/student"

The two issues with this rating, as raised by Board Members, prior to the vote, but ignored by the majority:
1.  The Criteria clearly requires the rating to factor in the size of the school, so the benchmark rating must be defined as the average cost per student per square foot.

2.  The fact that Senior Administrators addmitted that they did not know what the average facility operating cost in the Strait Regional School Board is; they indicated the $1000/student rating was approved by the Board last year and they decided to use the same rating this year.  Absolute disregard for the obligations defined in the Screening Process - and the majority (8-4) of Strait Regional School Board Members allowed them to get away with it.  

Shame on the Strait Regional School Board Members for allowing the six-figure administrators to continuously run the show.  How many elected Board Members realize that it is the Board that is supposed to direct the Administration - by a show of hands Board Members?  One, Two, Three, Four.  Sounds about right, because Board Members MacLaughlin, Machnik, Horton, and Reddick all took the time to become informed and voted with integrity three times last night:

1.  To allow Save Community Schools the Opportunity to make a presentation to the Board (original request submitted January 25) - Voted Down 8-4.

2.  To table (delay) the vote on the motion to initiate the School Review Process, until Board Members have an opportunity to get to the bottom of the allegations that some of the criteria were misapplied and to verify the information in a recently submitted updated Screening Report - Voted Down 7-5.  (Board Member Anne Peters agreed with the other four that there was a need to take the time to verify the information presented.) 

3.  To initiate the School Review Process (Identification Reports) for three community schools, based on a flawed report, thus flawed recommendations, in the 2011 Screening Report - Voted to Accept 8-4.

Let us hope our Municipal and Provincial elected officials value the concerns of their citizens more than the Strait Regional School Board, and that they take the time to become informed and support our continued campaign to Save Community Schools!

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