Dear Mr. Hansen,
I would like to convey to you some of my thoughts and concerns that have emerged as the public process of consultation has developed these past few weeks. I would also like to convey to you my personal perspective on the importance of rebuilding our schools as is described in the EFR phase 1 document.
There has been much discussion and commentary within our communities and in the various public media. As this discussion has proceeded the public face of the issue appears to have become a story about ‘what will happen to a small westside annex as a result of the intransigence of a large corporate institution (UBC) combined with bureaucracy locked into a faulty process (VSB). Yet, such a representation is not supported in the empirical facts of the situation.
From my perspective, and that of many of the other parents I know in this area, the issue is about two very important issues: the need to rebuild our schools, and; the lack of capital funding to do what needs to be done.
It is clear to those of us who have made the commitment to live in the new residential areas on Point Grey that the University has gone a long way toward making the rebuilding of our schools possible. We can, as always hope for more from the university, but to wait for a miracle would be to place the needs of many, many young children and families at risk of a further disruption to their education.
As adults wrangle over words and sentences in arcane planning documents our children are growing up. My own boys will not have the opportunity to attend the long sought after rebuilt school, even if it is put in place at the earliest date implied. We need the school out here and what I hear when I walk through my neighbourhood is that it’s time to start rebuilding.
Perhaps a few words about the community that makes up the student population at the two U Hill Schools would be of some interest. In terms of demographics you will already know that both schools are at the limit of their enrolment capacity. According to the BC Statistics census tract data for the UBC/UEL area there are 1545 school age children (6 to 17 years of age) living in our community. There are an additional 680 children living in this area under the age of 6. The overall population in this area has increased by nearly 40% since the 2001 census (see previous post for data). This compares with a next to nil population increase in the surrounding census tract areas (i.e. Dunbar and West Tenth areas immediately adjacent to the UEL.
It is difficult to make the decision to close any school for any reason. I would personally prefer that some other source of funding be found as opposed to the proceeds of a small school. However, if waiting for new money or new mechanisms means losing the opportunity to rebuild our schools then I do not believe that is the reasonable and prudent thing to do. We need to start Rebuilding Our Schools and we need to do it sooner rather than later.
Some have asked which school might be next? Perhaps we should ask which student must stand in line for the bus, which students must sit in a seismically unsound building, . . . Not as elegant a slogan, but more in tune with the reality of the need to rebuild our schools. Our children need a proper place to go to school and learn. On behalf of 500 hundred young people without a neighbourhood school I ask that you hold the course and start rebuilding.
Parent of a U Hill Secondary Student.