Tuesday, 6 May 2014

On Tuesday, May 06, 2014 by PWSParents

Community Complaints Overview
Community Complaints #1
Community Complaint #2
Community Complaints Con't 3 & 4
Community Complaints Con't 5,6 & 7

8. Withheld information

Community complaints include relevant information withheld from Board members, volunteer committee members and the community:
Imagine Our Schools recommendations - In 2008, HRSB hired Maureen O’Shaughnessy, an independent consultant, to provide a ten year facility master plan. In her June 18, 2009, public presentation, Ms. O’Shaughnessy cited special cultural and demographic attributes of the school community and recommended that the school be maintained as a P-9 school;
Model school - Park West is a model school in the Province;
Full slate of programming and activities - Park West offers a full slate of programming and activities;
High achievement - Achievement of Park West students is among the highest in the Province;
Community support - The Park West community, including teachers and parents, overwhelming support the P-9 configuration;
Stability for New Canadians - Park West School students speak 50 languages and come from 70 countries, many from families who moved to the community so their children could attend the school.  The stability provided by the P-9 configuration is important to both new and established Canadians. The school is a draw for new Canadians to move to and settle in Nova Scotia;
Current enrolment - Current enrolment includes a significant number of out of area students, many without permission. The presence of out of area students inflates the number of students who live in the school’s catchment area. It also provides false data; which is used by staff to make projections;
Recognition of boundaries - Staff does not follow the Student Registration Policy and thereby allows a significant number of out of area students. Following this policy would be the least disruptive means to reduce enrolment - if a reduction is needed;
Capped enrolment - Staff does not cap enrolment. It too, is a least disruptive means to reduce enrolment;
FOIPOP request - Staff’s refusal to provide information has forced community members to make a FOIPOP request. The results of which confirmed inaccuracy of information provided by staff;
Community “backlash” - There is significant underutilization of schools in Fairview and Clayton Park. On March 12th, the Superintendent advised that although he has the ability to close a school he would not do so because closing schools is not popular with the public and would create backlash in Fairview and Clayton Park.

9. Exceeded mandate

The Terms of Reference regarding this boundary review state that it is to “develop a report regarding catchment areas.” This is the governing document regarding the mandate of the committee.
The Committee is to provide a report regarding catchment areas:
The Boundary Review Committee will develop a report that will recommend the catchment areas for the above outlined schools and outline the opportunities and constraints of these potential boundaries. [Emphasis added]
Staff explained that the review pertained to catchment area in HRSB Boundary Review Information Pamphlet Grosvenor-Wentworth Park Elementary School Park West School January 2014:
What is a school boundary?
A school boundary refers to the designated geographic area around a school that includes residences ‘assigned’ for student enrolment at the neighborhood school.
What is a Boundary Review?
A Boundary Review is a process of assessing enrolment catchment areas for existing schools to determine the impact of changing a boundary, and to make recommendations based on the assessment to address potential overcrowding and underutilization of schools.
How are schools identified to be recommended for Boundaries Reviews?
As per Halifax Regional School Board Policy B.003, the Governing Board is authorized to periodically review any and all school catchment boundaries … [Emphasis added]
Staff have submitted scenarios to the volunteer committee members that fall outside its authority under its Terms of Reference. (Staff have submitted scenarios regarding grade configuration, and in particular, closing the junior high potion of the school and sending the students to another community.) Moreover, it is understood that staff are pressuring the volunteer committee members to recommend such a scenario – even though they have no authority to do so.