Ash­ley Park School clo­sure was a pre­de­ter­mined de­ci­sion

The Southwest Booster - - OPINION -

To the ed­i­tor: The Chi­nook School Di­vi­sion re­cently an­nounced the clo­sure of Ash­ley Park School. I feel the Board and man­age­ment have mis­led the pub­lic into think­ing that the Core schools will be half empty once Ecole Cen­ten­nial School is opened this fall.

Back in June 2011 they had con­sul­ta­tions pri­mar­ily on where the South Side stu­dents would be ed­u­cated. In their prepa­ra­tion work they in­di­cated that the three Core Schools (O.M. Ir­win, Cen­tral and Ash­ley Park) had a to­tal ca­pac­ity of 875 stu­dents. This past fall they had a sur­vey avail­able for the pub­lic to com­ment on. As part of the sur­vey, they pro­vided some back­ground in­for­ma­tion and said that the ca­pac­ity of those three schools is 1,200 stu­dents. The pro­jected en­rol­ment next year in the Core, once Cen­ten­nial is opened, is about 685 stu­dents.

In their back­ground pack­age they stated that, “it ob­vi­ously costs less to op­er­ate two schools than three”.

They wanted to make it look like the three schools would be only about half full in­stead of al­most 80 per cent full. By 2011 stan­dards, Ash­ley Park and Cen­tral schools are cur­rently over­crowded, and Ir­win is un­der ca­pac­ity.

There were two board mem­bers who voted against the clo­sures. I be­lieve that th­ese two mem­bers sat and lis­tened to the con­cerns that the par­ents and com­mu­nity brought forth. The oth­ers merely went along with the Di­rec­tor of Ed­u­ca­tion’s plan.

The Board lacked the fore­sight to see that the at­ten­dance at Cen­tral and Ir­win will be im­pacted by the open­ing of Cen­ten­nial and to plan ac­cord­ingly.

We went to one of the meet­ings in the fall and when we asked why this was- n’t con­sid­ered in 2011, the board chair replied by say­ing that they are just tak­ing one step at a time.

The steps they have gone through are merely a for­mal­ity be­cause the de­ci­sion was made a long time ago

The sur­vey this past fall was slanted to gar­ner the pub­lic’s sup­port for clos­ing another school. The board said they wanted in­put from the com­mu­nity, yet when I wrote a let­ter to the board I didn’t get a re­sponse.

The City is grow­ing and the cit­i­zens are be­gin asked to give up two pub­lic and two sep­a­rate schools for the new joint use school. Let’s hope it doesn’t take another 40 years for the next new school to be built, be­cause soon we will have more build­ings that used to be ele­men­tary schools than we have left still be­ing used to ed­u­cate our chil­dren.

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