Qualicum School District(QSD) Proposed Changes to the Public Consultation Process while the Public Consultation Process is underway.
by William Warren Munroe, November 1, 2011, revised November 6, 2011

This morning I received an email from a member of the subcommittee looking at the proposal to change the School Closure Order, referred to as policy 3040. This policy addresses the requirement stated in the School Act, to provide a public consultation process.

Curiously, instead of implimenting the public consultation process as required, this School District administration began taking steps to change the process, while the process was underway.

This effort undermined the trust of many in the community.

Now, there will be attempt to push thru the proposed changes before the elected trustees are inauguerated on December 6th; however, this proposed 3040 is less adequate than the current, implemented, 3040.

For example, the consultation period is to be shortened from 120 to 90 days; consideration of the impact on transportation is removed; the requirement to provide relevant information is removed; only 5 years of historical enrolment is required, and the enrolment forecast need only be for 10 years. Accepting only 15 years of enrolment numbers hides important information about changing, fluctuating enrolment.

In a reuters.com business news interview with Nouriel Roubini, who is well known (among economists) for having forecast the global financial crisis, Mr. Roubini stated the importance of looking at historical information.

He suggests that the reason many economists do not forecast properly is due to a "lack of institutional memory", .... current, young traders donít remember the downturn in 2001 never mind the downturns in late 1990s, mid '80s and in the 1970s (which were of course followed by upturns).

With this proposed 3040, the administration might argue that they would not have to provide the historical enrolment numbers of more than the last 5 years. If so, they would not be required to provide enrolment numbers back to when the school opened. In this way, they would not have to show the year that the $9.1 million expansion opened, just 7 years and one month prior to recommending a permanent closure.

Why not require that consultants include numbers back to at least 1983. The Matrix report can be revised to include numbers back to 1983. As well, the charts in the report can be revised to show all students - not start the y-axis at 3,800 students. Also, chart title can be corrected.

Revisions and additions to the information used to justify the recommendations to close a school, put forward by community members, can be incorporated in the public consultation process.

But first, information relevant to the potential closure must be made available; therefore, why was the requirement to provide " ... information relevant to the potential closure ..." removed? (Section 4 of the current 3040).

For example, is there really an $800,000 per year savings by closing the secondary school? Does the addition of the international students change this number? Also, how many students are needed to ensure core courses are available? We've been told there is no "magic number" (School District Board Chair); however, magic numbers are not needed now, rather, realistic numbers are required.

Other important requirements have also been removed. The reference to the consideration of the "effect on transportation services" is not included in the proposed 3040.

Why is the consultation period reduced from 120 to 90 days?

Why has the board and subcommittees been changing the school closure policy since announcing the recommendation to close a school, instead of making sure that relevant information is made available?

While this public consultation process is of importance here, it is also of importance to other communities and School Districts.

Already, requests for information from concerned citizens have contributed to the provincial government beginning to share data including the methods used to estimate population. See Success at Last.

This public consultation process can provide an example of how communities can be informed and consulted rather than ill informed and easily led.

The proposed 3040 should not be accepted.


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