Last week, I shared my decisions with the Board of Trustees on how we’re going to manage space for 11 of our schools facing enrolment pressures. I’d like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to parents and community members for your patience and your participation in our consultation process over the last few months. I truly appreciate all of the feedback we collected along the way. Your input was vital in helping me make some really difficult decisions. I know they’ve affected some families more than others and not everyone will be happy with the outcomes. I’m a dad of two and I understand the important role schools play in the lives of families.
For me, this review was about providing great learning spaces and the best educational opportunities to kids. To strengthen this goal in a time of major challenges around space, I wanted to work with my administration to develop a consultation process that got to the heart of the values carried by parents and community members, as well as our principals, other dedicated staff and students. We wanted to see everyone come together to have honest conversations about what solutions needed to be on the table. It was important to me to get this process right, so we wouldn’t have to go through it again next year. I wanted it to be rooted in a thoughtful approach that allowed us to walk in the same direction together – towards a more sustainable, certain future. Ultimately, I tried to honour your feedback in the decisions wherever possible and make them through the lens of what I felt was in the best interest of kids over the coming years. We know the only long-term solution in growing neighbourhoods is new schools, but in the meantime, we need to make good use of the space we have. Through our Board’s advocacy efforts, we hope to receive more schools from the provincial government for the areas that need them most.
Moving forward, we’re focused on doing everything we can to support kids transitioning to different schools. I know principals and staff across the District are already working to ensure students are welcomed and cared for when they go to their welcoming school in September. Open house season launched last week, so I hope you’ll also check out what our schools have to offer to help with your family’s transition.
Soon, we’ll begin the next step of our District’s Infrastructure Strategy, which serves as our roadmap in managing student space effectively at all of our schools. This time, we’re going to examine inner areas of the city. We plan to hold another consultation process to find out what aspirations you have for your communities and what services and amenities you may want to see in the coming years.
One thing I never forgot throughout this whole process was that, at the centre of all of the tough decisions I had to make were your kids – our students. I get up each morning with a lot of optimism for their future, and with passion and energy to work with parents, community partners and staff to provide them with the very best learning environment. There’s nothing more important than that environment – it’s what sets the stage for their success in life and allows us to offer a first-class education that’s admired the world over.