Open Letter to Prof. Stephen Toope, UBC President

Dear Professor Toope,

I am writing to you in your capacity as the President of the University and also as a fellow parent concerned about the wellbeing of all students to request an opportunity for a representative group of parents from campus and nearby schools to meet with you to discuss the role that UBC might play in improving the educational opportunities for all of our children.

As you may be aware, last week (January 11, 2008) the Vancouver Board of Education released what they call Phase One of their Educational Facilities Review. This review contains proposals that will meet concerns that we, as parents and community members living in this area have long asked for -a renewed and expanded high school and an additional elementary school- all required to meet the rapid growth in school aged children that have resulted due to UBC’s development of housing. However, also included in this plan is the proposal to close a very effective and successful elementary school annex that has been lauded many times in the past for it’s amazing program and success.

This past Saturday, representatives from the Parent Advisory Councils of each of the affected schools (U Hill Elementary, U Hill Secondary, Jules Quesnel, Queen Elizabeth, Queen Elizabeth Annex, Queen Mary, and Lord Byng Secondary) met to discuss our hopes and concerns as parents as related to the proposal.

We all recognize and understand the pressing need for improvements in schools at UBC. We also all appreciate that UBC, through it’s private development company, UBC Properties Trust, has made a commitment to offer the former NRC Building, provide some additional infrastructure, and has completed some initial preparation work as part of their contribution. Nonetheless, many of us were seriously concerned that only solution that seems to be available is the selling off of a highly effective neighbourhood school.

We are certain that with your consideration, with the support of development companies who are benefiting from the development of UBC lands, and with the commitment of parents such as those who met together this past Saturday, that we can find a solution that does not require the sacrifice of an excellent community school.

We look forward to hearing from you and trust that despite the business of your position that you can find a time to meet with us and discus a creative alternative to the sacrifice of Queen Elizabeth Annex.

With warm regards,

Charles Menzies
Member of U. Hill Secondary PAC and executive member of the Vancouver District Parents Advisory Council.

cc:
PAC reps from QEA, QE, QM, JQ, LB, U Hill Sec, U Hill Elem,
DPAC Chair, Julianne Doctor
VSB, Chris Kelly
UNA, Mike Feeley, Associate Chair

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