North Shore Outlook Investigates Declining Enrollment

The Outlook published an article today that investigates the declining enrollment in North Vancouver schools.

(Thanks to Norwood Queens CA for pointing it out)

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Traffic, Seismic Safety, Transparency are Your Top Issues at Balmoral

The Meeting was Chaired by Barbara McKinley and Rick Danyluk – both members of Norwood Queens Community Association.

Intro – Barbara McKinley (Secretary) – provides brief summary of the Balmoral issue – the history and where we are now.

10,000 people in upper Lonsdale (combined population of 3 territories: Norwood Queens, Carisbrooke, and Delbrook). This represents a loud voice should we successfully reach out to the many concerned citizens.

Barbara made a special request and “Caution” – to continue to show respect and caring for all learners within the North Vancouver School District.
She summarized and reviewed the 2 motions that School Board had to vote on at their last Public Board meeting: Narrowly defeated (4 to 3) to spend $2.5M now on Balmoral renovations, but then approved a budget of $250K which gives the architect the ability to proceed with necessary studies and drawings for Balmoral site.

April 24th – Public board meeting – we suggest a motion will be repositioned with the Trustees to spend the balance of total funds needed to upgrade Balmoral and prep for Community Learning Program (CLP) – and all other programs and services that will be recommended for Balmoral based on CAWG proposals (see the 3 listed below).

Presented slide from School Board meeting (look at page 5) which broke the costs down which are associated with Balmoral renovation and the potential different services and programs which may be moved to Balmoral in the future, showing the $2.292M cost for the CLP.

Within the District Learning Center (DLC), some students will be taking courses through the Distributed Learning program. This is an on-line environment where students travel to a school site for tutorials and invigilation of exams. The School District plans to run this on-line program out of the Balmoral site. Not all students taking DL courses will travel to Balmoral; some will take exams in their own school. At present approximately 50 cars per day travel to the Lucas Center for this program. No additional costs were shown for this program as they are included in the $2.292MM.

On the same slide, the other programs suggested for Balmoral site are:

Item Cost Notes
District Services $216K 1 van / per day
Adult Continuing Education $480K (Morning only ) approx. 200 adult students – most drive based on current Lucas Centre – to meet the parking needs an additional parking of 80 stalls is planned
Joint Use/Recreation $420K for modifications to support those services
Total $1.116MM

The Question posed next – “What is important to you as a community member and which issues do you wish us to pursue as your representatives?”
Participant Question: What does “joint use mean” ? Krista Tulloch (CAWG participant) answered by cautioning the group that “no official conversation with Rec Commission has occurred “so not sure what this really means.

Another participant brings up the concern that a Church runs out of Lucas Centre now – have we been told about this – does it fall under “education” ?? Will this move to Balmoral?

Krista Tulloch recommends we look closer to minutes from last CAWG meeting to make sure Mark Jefferson’s assurances are adhered to re: Discussion of ensuring Institutional memory as discussed at CAWG meetings.

Ron Polly – lives in the Hamilton Heights neighbourhood – home of current Lucas Centre – he says, “Your Biggest headache will be the cars coming and going in your community.” He also disputes the 1 school board van per day comment – he sees more coming and going daily. He gave brief summary of his neighbourhood and what he’d like to see – full learning / multi-use facility – 12.5 acres available for making it something special (ice rink, field hockey fields …etc…think outside the box). He also said we should really make sure we do not get storage and adult education to Balmoral.

Important upcoming dates for community to be aware of and attend:

  • April 2 – DNV presentation
  • April 10th – CAWG report done – and presented at public meeting
  • Tues April 24th – School Board makes further budgetary vote and future use of Balmoral site recommendations.

Topic came up tonight – many were very disappointed with how the Board of Education handled the last Board meeting – it was recommended that we, NQCA, request a larger location for April 24th meeting. Barbara is pursuing this.

Meeting participants then divided into 5 smaller groups – The Task: to uncover 3 top issues. This was the outcome:

  1. Increased traffic and street parking (DE, AE), change of use, late night use
  2. Why no seismic upgrade, safety concerns, why a lesser standard for CLP
  3. Lack of transparency, respect for community

Following this – we went back into our groups to brainstorm possible “strategies” to achieve a win/win with NVSD with the proposed use for Balmoral.

The General Meeting was concluded at 8:15 pm.

It was agreed that the executives of both the NQCA and Delbrook Community Association would meet on Sunday March 4th to develop a Strategic Action Plan based on the community’s findings from tonight’s General Meeting. This will be shared with the community so that we may get as many participants and volunteers to see the Action Plan to successful completion.

North Van School District Replies

Today’s North Shore Outlook contains a letter from NVSD trustee, Franci Stratton. You can save yourself a trip to the recycling bin by reading it online. The article she references is also available online.

She asserts that the community can have their voice heard by feeding into the Community Advisory Working Group process, but of course, offers no suggestions as to how you might do that. Fortunately, any email to delbrookca@gmail.com will make it to Troy Vassos, who is the Delbrook Community Association’s representative on the CAWG.

Whether the CAWG turns out to be an effective community engagement process, or whether our voices will be drowned out by the board-friendly representatives, remains to be seen.

Having said that, we have found individual trustees very accessible and willing to listen to our concerns for traffic safety and parking in the neighborhood. So, go ahead and contact Troy to feed into the CAWG process, but I recommend you also call or email the trustees.

Official Response to Flyer Complainant

Here is the content of a letter written on behalf of the Delbrook Community Association in response to one of the speakers at last week’s school board meeting. Incidentally, several community members indicated they approached the speaker in question and she could not identify who had delivered her flyer.


I was not able to attend the meeting on February 21st which I understand was such an overflow meeting that many would-be attendees were forced to wait outside in the rain, did not receive a copy of the Agenda, and could not hear the proceedings.

It is my understanding that a speaker reported hearing derogatory remarks about the planned transfer of Keith Lynn students to Balmoral School made by a person delivering fliers and purporting to be a member of a Community Association.

I wish to make it clear that the person responsible for those remarks is not a member of the Delbrook Community Association and did not speak for us. In our over fifty years of working to improve the quality of life within our small neighbourhood, the Delbrook Community Association has never condoned discrimination of any kind.

Our only issue is the impact which planned changes in the Balmoral School programs will have on traffic volume, traffic safety, and parking in our neighbourhood, which is already under considerable stress from traffic and parking generated by nearby Braemar Elementary School.

We understand that the District of North Vancouver has commenced a traffic study to research these problems and we await their report.

Diana Bellhouse
President
Delbrook Community Association

School District Approves Funding for Balmoral Renovation

There was a huge turnout at the North Van school district tonight. Thank you to everyone who came out and filled the hallway and stairs. It’s a good thing the fire Marshall didn’t get wind of the meeting or we would have been in the rain for sure.

Sadly, my wife and I were a little late getting to the meeting and couldn’t find parking. So I was in the hall and couldn’t hear any of the impassioned presentations. Watch for the minutes on the nvsd website if you want to see what was said.

Ironically, Barry Forward presented a framework for community engagement, and there was an interesting discussion at exactly what that means. Too bad the new board is coming in with their renewed interest in community engagement after some of the decisions affecting out community.

The trustees heard a presentation from the architect, which enabled me to get a better look at the plan. Much of the building will be only lightly renovated, and the main work will take place around the front of the school. Creating the offices for community services in a segregated area so that it is accessible to the public without passing through academic areas of the school requires moving the cafeteria and the library. The major renovation is to the foyer, which will be opened up to create an open mixing space.

Because a seismic upgrade to the building would take all the funds., and indeed it would be almost as much as building a new school.  So, this renovation is not going to make the building safer for earthquakes.

The architect states that the school will require 32 parking spaces, while the community services will have 8 to 10. Note that the Delbrook CA has been indicating 200 spaces required for all three programs under consideration for Balmoral – CLP, Adult Educaton and Distance Learning. The architect estimates there are about 60 spaces on site, which must mean he is counting spaces beneath the portables or around the back. Apparently the district will require 45 spaces for the CLP.

On another slide we got a glimpse of the plans for the budget for adult education and distance learning. There was a line indicating 80 parking stalls. The total budget for non-CLP programs looks like about 1.1 million dollars. The budget for CLP is, of course, 2.5 million.

The renovations will begin with asbestos remediation in July 2012 (no estimate yet due to not having completed asbestos review, however much asbestos was removed in 2004). Construction is expected to complete in November. The architect recommends that the kids move in in January 2013.

The district figures that they could get funding from three sources:

  • There is 2.1 Million available from previous projects that the province may let us spend on this school.
  • The province gives us an Annual Facilities Grant every year that could be applied to paint and asbestos remediation.
  • The school district will seek a long term lease at some location.

The traffic study by Urban Systems has been under way for the past week. I believe it was Superintendent Lewis who stated that the school district would need to pay for any traffic calming.

Once the questions were done, and the first motion proposed, there was a lively discussion.  All of the trustees favor the CLP, but thanks to the room full of people, and the many emails they’ve received, they have heard the our call to slow down and wait for the outcome of the Community Advisory Working Group.  Superintendent Lewis characterized slowing down as a vote to continue to leave the parents and students of the alternate programs hanging.

The first vote, which would have approved all the funds was narrowly defeated.  The second motion,

that the Board of Education approves the expenditure of up to $250,000 of the $2.5 million estimated budget for the fees required to proceed with the schematic design, design development and working drawings for the renovations to Balmoral school to accommodate and support the Community Learning Program, and that the Secretary Treasurer report back to the Public Board meeting no later than May 2012 with a pre-tender estimate of the renovation costs and for final project approval.

 

that the Board of Education defers any further decisions regarding renovations to Balmoral School related to District Services and additional programs under consideration (Continuing/Adult Education and Joint Use/ Recreational) until the Community Advisory Working Group process has concluded.

Passed almost unanimously.

February 21st School Board Meeting to Vote on Renovation Funds

This post is based on the flyer that was delivered to many households in the past week.

Even before the Community Advisory Working Group completes their process, the school board is asking our trustees to approve a budget for up to $3 Million in renovations. We hope to convince the trustees to defer this decision until the community consultation process is complete.

We are asking the NVSD postpone the decision for many reasons, including:

  • On June 21, 2011 the NVSD estimated the costs for training, equipment and renovations would be $150,000 to $350,000. By November 15, 2011 the cost to renovate Balmoral had escalated to $2.5 million, and then up to $3.0 Million by January 10. The source of the required funds has not been determined.
  • There is a lack of information on what will be done to accommodate the student community support services.
  • Traffic studies are now finally underway but have not been completed, so there is no information on how the 500 or more students and hundreds of cars expected daily will affect Braemar and Andre Piolat students, local residents and Balmoral students themselves.
  • The decision to consolidate and relocate the alternate school programs resulted in the loss of the 130 Windsor House program students and $1 million in revenue.
  • NVSD made the decision to locate the CLP to Balmoral without community consultation, and was proposing to move the remaining Lucas Centre programs to Balmoral without full and open public consultation.
  • NVSD is looking at adding 250 or so adult learners to the 250 alternate program students, 50 staff, and undisclosed wrap‐around services without real consultation with the wider community.
  • Committing to architectural fees for design, drawings, contract specifications and tendering , and soliciting bids ‐ before the NVSD decides what programs will be housed at Balmoral, is putting the cart before the horse. It is a waste of design fees and is also unfair to contractors, as well as the community.
  • It is time for the new school board trustees to regain community trust with a transparent and inclusive process.  In the absence of specific information around the cost increases to the renovations anticipated, it is reasonable to assume that approving the renovation request now is – in reality – making a de‐facto decision on the programs that will be housed at Balmoral, prior to the results of any community input or consultation.

What can you do?

Come ! To the North Vancouver School District meeting.
7 pm ‐ Tuesday February 21 ‐ 721 Chesterfield Ave.
Email ! NVSD school board trustees with your concerns
Copy ! DelbrookCA@gmail.com your e‐mails to the trustees
Talk ! To friends and neighbors about the issues

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