Reject the closure of Ecole Puntledge Park Elementary
January 23, ask 2016
Dear Mr. Boldt and Ms.Caton, buy
We write this email to implore you to reject or at the very least postpone the closure of Ecole Puntledge Park Elementary School. We are residents of the City of Courtenay, living in the Puntledge neighbourhood, and we are parents to a grade one student at the school. In the next couple years, two more of our children are hoping to attend the school in its current location. We are invested in the future of this school site as an invaluable part of our children’s education and as part of our neighbourhood and wider community.
We initially approached the proposed closure with an open mind, trying to see the benefits of a relocation to Lake Trail. After reading the available reports, and attending a number of the consultation meetings, we are convinced that the move of our dear elementary school is a poor choice for many reasons.
We value the setting and environment of Puntledge Elementary. Our daughter struggles with anxiety, and one of the best self-regulating practices for her is a connection to nature. We love that the setting of Puntledge makes it even more convenient for staff to take their classes outdoors, for walks in the afternoon, for art, for science, for a quick break in the fresh air when needed. To play in a forest at recess, to study the salmon up close, and to feel protected within the security of a quiet neighbourhood, on a sheltered campus is the norm at Puntledge. It is a treasure that we have a public school that can offer these much needed opportunities to our young ones in a time where more and more children are inactive and suffer from self regulation challenges, anxiety and depression. Lake Trail is much more exposed, and does not provide access to the same opportunities, despite the proposals to modify the school grounds.
Additionally, we have concerns about safety if Puntledge is moved. We often walk to or from school, and we appreciate that the neighbourhood traffic is that of a quiet residential area. We have deep concerns about the traffic around the Lake Trail site. Also, we are constantly reminded that a major earthquake could strike at any time, yet the School District is considering the closure of a low- risk building, and moving our very young children to a site with a much higher risk.
We also feel that the loss of Lake Trail as a middle school, is a huge loss to education in the Comox Valley and a blow to the revitalization of West Courtenay. There is no doubt that Lake Trail is a model of what works well in education and we hope that the Board will explore more creative ways to make efficient, yet educationally valuable choices for this group of students and the Lake Trail facility. We are seeing an increase in interest for alternative programs. As parents and community members, we would welcome bringing new programming – for example NIDES and its programs – into Lake Trail to join with the existing middle school, or to fill the empty space, if it is decided to move the grade 8 and 9s along to Vanier.
We are also unconvinced that the projected retrofit to transition Lake Trail to a safe and healthy elementary school will remain within the budget provided or be completed on time. These uncertainties would be eliminated if other more viable options for Lake Trail’s future are seriously considered.
There are many possibilities that have not been transparently explored because of the nature of the consultation process and the limited time that is available to make these decisions. Because of this, we also implore the Board to motion to begin the process of consultation for the closure of Lake Trail so that more options can remain open over the long term. Keeping Puntledge the vibrant, successful school that it is remains of the utmost importance.
Exploring options for the future of the Lake Trail site can be done properly if the pressure of time is somewhat relieved. There are few cost- related downfalls to this option, and many potential benefits for our students and our community.
Thank you for your consideration of these issues and the many other concerns brought forward by the Keep Puntledge at Puntledge representatives.
Zac Whyte and Alissa Mather
Postpone closing Ecole Puntledge Elementary
January 23, 2016
To: Sheila McDonnell, Trustee
We are Area A residents living in Royston, but we are grandparents of an Ecole Puntledge Elementary student and spend several days a week commuting along Willemar Avenue past Lake Trail School to pick up the younger siblings (future Ecole Puntledge students). We observe at close quarters the heavy vehicle traffic past Lake Trail, poor visibility on the corner of 5th Street and Willemar, speeding cars, and erratic driving. Then, on the days we pick up or drop off our granddaughter in Grade One we observe a different traffic pattern at Ecole Puntledge where many students walk to school and neighbourhood drivers are respectful and careful. Drivers around Puntledge appear to be much more considerate of the pedestrian traffic.
We have also seen how the teachers have used the wooded area at Ecole Puntledge as a creative art tool and for scientific study. It is a gem of a setting for an elementary school.
Thirdly, we live in a high risk area for seismic activity and Lake Trail School has not been renovated for earthquake safety. Ecole Puntledge being a single story school is a safer place to be during an earthquake.
We know this is an extremely difficult decision due to budget constraints but ask that you consider the alternatives suggested by the Keep Puntledge at Puntledge committee.
Anne and Norm Campo
Where does our budget deficit come from?
To summarize the anticipated budget shortfall for 2016/17:
2) Funding protection will be down $154,000 (We are guaranteed 98.5% of previous year’s budget as a minimum)
3) Enrollment for Distance Learning due to an audit stating reporting requirements will be down $528,000
4) Additional Admin Savings required by the Province = $368,000 (recommendations for this have been sent to the board)
5) Salary increases for all employee groups = $1,124,000
6) Benefit increases = $152,000
Sub-Total of above shortfall = $3,359,000
Receipt of Pay Equity funding = $451,000 (to reduce the shortfall above)
New Sub-Total of above shortfall = $2,908,000
What we don’t know about is if the funding for Salary Increases for CUPE and Teachers will be funded separately. At this time, we are conservatively estimating it will be, with the district to receive $486,000.
The total shortfall all the above will be $2.4 million.
Sheldon Lee, CPA/CMA
Acting Secretary Treasurer
School District No. 71 (Comox Valley)
Office: 250-334-5500 ext 3121