Reverse the Trend

With every 1% drop in participation our school district loses $1.5 million. Participation is a controllable cause, it means some of our schools are not competitive. The community knows what it wants but we aren’t providing it. Why not develop a strategy to reverse these trends in areas where its happening?

When boundaries were lifted in 2002 we were vulnerable to competition but we didn’t respond until the community led the introduction of International Baccalaureate Program (IB) in 2008.

Given only a year, our student population immediately responded but was chased away again in 2009 with the threat of permanent closure by 2012

Carson/ Balmoral catchment is the only area where we have experienced this kind of decline

To support the location of the Community Learning Program, we were shown the following slide:

However, the reality is that most of the CLP students don’t live near the new location:

It’s possible to turn a school around

Capilano Elementary and Balmoral Secondary followed the same path but only Capilano was allowed to follow through
We don’t need to give up on our school, the kids are still here and more are coming with new growth

Engaging the community and offering the programs they want strengthens the NVSD budget and avoids community land sales, a permanent decision that can reduce quality of life

An Open Call

* The previous Board of Education made a major decision regarding the long term plans for Balmoral which greatly affected our community
* A majority of that board new they were not continuing on
* That decision should have been made by the new board
* We ask the new board, in the spirit of positive community consultation, work with us to make Balmoral the best it can be

To contact your local trustees, see the Contacts page

An Open Call for Consultation

For our community there are many programming changes proposed and we are optimistic that we can work together with the Board of Education to make those changes fit within the character of the neighbourhood.  We are aware of the time constraints that the Board are under with the budget deliberations this evening, but ask them to consider deferring passage in order to work with us to improve the future utilization of the Carson North (Balmoral)  facility.

In the last few days prior to the election, the previous Board of Education made a major decision regarding the long term plans for Carson Graham North which will greatly affect the neighbouring community.    We believe that decision should have been made by the new board, after the election, rather than the previous board, mid-election, where a majority of that board knew they would not be continuing on after the election.  We have no interest in revisiting all of the decisions of the previous board, but this one particular mid-election vote has us feeling like the normal level of consultation was not the top priority

In that spirit of positive community consultation, we invite the Board of Education to a dinner meeting with a few of our representatives in order to get a better mutual understanding of the impacts on our neighbourhood and the realities that the Board are facing.  Again, we understand the time constraints you are under, but hope that the Board are willing to work together with us to make Carson North the best it can be.

Background on William Griffin and Delbrook Recreation Centers

Posted by Rene Gourley from information provided by Kevin McCauley

Rumblings about William Griffin and Delbrook Recreation Centers began in 2007.  It seems that council have decided that the best course of action is to consolidate the two facilities at the William Griffin site and use the sale (“equity transfer?”) of the Delbrook site to pay for the new facility.  The most recent list of amenities at the expanded facility include the following:

included proposed
  • fitness area
  • gymnasium
  • arts and crafts studios
  • youth centre
  • seniors’ centre
  • dance and martial arts floor
  • pre-school program centre
  • mulit-purpose space
  • welcoming foyer
  • support spaces
  • A swimming pool
  • Administrative space
  • Community services
  • Racquetball/squash courts, and
  • Commercial revenue generating opportunities such as food services or professional health services appropriate for a community recreation centre

The new building is anticipated at 81,000 square feet.  However, in October and November 2011, consultants gathered input from stakeholders (existing users?) to review the core program spaces and confirm specific space requirements in order to proceed with detailed building design and costing.

This project has been included in the District’s capital plan. A draft program and space plan will be prepared for further review and public consultation in early 2012. The program and space plan will form the basis for detailed building design and costing.

Concerns

  • The new build for Griffin will be about $50M [plus?].  Most of this will come from our taxes.
  • Value of ‘equity transfer’ Delbrook $21.5M
  • A complete shock to over 30 neighbours in the immediate Delbrook/Griffin area in early November 2011. Exact same story as Balmoral; lack of community consultation.
  • Major changes to our immediate neighborhood; where is the planning?  The OCP is silent on this area, except to note that Queens and Delbrook are transit corridors.
  • What exactly will be developed on the Delbrook site?
  • Traffic and parking are already a problem at William Griffin.  How will this be addressed?

Resources

Posted by Rene Gourley

CLP Community Advisory Working Group Progress

The North Vancouver School District is using a Community Advisory Working Group (CAWG) to fulfill its community engagement requirements.  The CAWG consists of five members from community associations in the neighborhood (including Delbrook), and 15 other members representing various interested stakeholder groups, including four from NVSD and two trustees (see table below)

They met for the first time on January 30th, and the school district has posted the Presentation made by the school board as well as the Summary Notes.  They also posted the Summary of Input and Feedback from the January 10 public meeting.

Documents and resources pertaining to the North Vancouver School District’s Learning Centre (NVSDLC) and the Community Learning Program (CLP) are posted on the North Vancouver School District’s website at:

http://www.nvsd44.bc.ca/en/sitecore/content/Updates/CommunityLearningProgram.aspx

http://www.nvsd44.bc.ca/en/Programs/CommunityLearning/ResourceLinks.aspx

Posted by Rene Gourley

Balmoral Update

The School Board is consolidating its Alternative Programs for at-risk youth (including Keith Lynn) under the new Community Learning Program and will be locating this program at Balmoral. The Board will be voting on approving a $2.5 – $3.0 Million renovation budget to accommodate the 165 students expected to be enrolled in September 2012, along with associated teaching, support services and administrative staff. This renovation budget is a huge increase over the estimated $150-$350K for renovations originally estimated last June.

The School Board is also proposing to relocate the remaining Lucas Centre programs to Balmoral, including Adult Education, Distance Learning, storage, library cataloguing, and administrative functions. Adult Education is of particular concern as there are currently up to 250 adults attending classes each weekday morning and there are only 43 onsite parking spaces at Balmoral. Under pressure from the community, the NVSD has now retained an engineering firm to carry out a parking, traffic and pedestrian safety assessment for the proposed relocations.

The NVSD has also established a Community Advisory Working Group that includes five community representatives for the purpose of examining the impact of the proposed program relocations to Balmoral. This group held its first of three monthly meetings on January 30, 2012. Links to the School Board’s summary notes are attached.

A website is being developed by concerned neighbours. While still under construction, the web site can be accessed at http://www.delbrook.org. Comments can be posted and are being monitored. The Delbrook Community Association will also be posting future updates on this website.

There has been a second local community association formed, the Norwood Queens Community Association (NQCA), which includes those homes between Mahon and Lonsdale, and Montroyal and 29th Street. The president of the NQCA is Deidre Smith, and the NQCA and DCA are working closely together on the community issues.

Open Public Meeting

We have now obtained the NVSD assurance they will not make any further decisions on programs to be relocated to Balmoral until the Community Advisory Working Group meetings are complete and the NVSD has held an open public meeting on the subject – to be held sometime in April.

District of North Vancouver Engagement

The DNV Council has now agreed to participate as observers in the NVSD Community Advisory Working Group, and to also work with the NVSD in carrying out an assessment of the parking, traffic, and pedestrian safety impacts of the proposed program relocations.

Next Step

The trustees will be voting on approving up to a $3.0 Million renovation budget for Balmoral at their upcoming NVSD Board meeting on February 21 2012. Although the trustees have been assured by the NVSD administration that an affirmative vote does not commit them to the renovations, in that they can still change their minds at the point of tendering, there will be considerable costs incurred in architectural design and construction tendering fees as well as costs to the contractors who are bidding on the work in good faith. Both the DCA and NQCA are hoping to dissuade the trustees from approving any renovation funding until a final decision has been made on the programs to be offered at Balmoral.

Interesting Note

As North Shore residents we have come to “almost” accept the closure of schools within the district because of declining student enrollment. You may be forgiven for making the common mistaken assumption that the decline in student enrollment is due to a decline in the number of students on the North Shore. In fact, there has been an increase in the student population over the past 15 years. The reason for the declining enrollment is because increasing numbers of students are being forced to seek their education elsewhere, including over 1100 students who are enrolled in the West Vancouver School District. The NVSD has been unable (some would say unwilling) to create progressive educational programs that meet these student needs.

The NVSD decision to consolidate and relocate the alternate programs to Balmoral resulted in the predicable loss of Windsor School and its 135 students. Rather than being forced to consolidate into one program, Windsor School arranged to, instead, be administered by the Gulf Island School District.

Posted by Rene Gourley

The Balmoral Issue

This post has not yet been endorsed by the community association

Most neighbours are probably already aware that Balmoral School will be closing in June. What you may not have known is that the NVSD is planning to repurpose the school and re-open it next September. This will change the demographics of the school population to include the following:

• The Key Program (formerly known as Third Step) for AT Risk Students age 13 – 17
• Keith Lynn Alternate School (KLASS) for students age 13 – 17
• Therapeutic Day Program for students age 12 – 18 for students with mental health concerns
• The Youth Learning Centre (YLC) for students age16 – 19

The NVSD held a public information meeting on January 10 with the intent of describing the repurposing, described in the meeting as a “done deal”, and also pitch a concept to include their adult basic education program along with community services uses.

Although 1 in 6 students (representing approximately 2,500 students) were described by the NVSD representatives as having need for the above programs, conflicting information was presented regarding the exact number of students who are expected to be involved with estimates ranging from 187 to 287 students.

Adult Basic Education currently involves over 200 adult students, and the Distributed Learning program (centrally located at the site) serves approximately 50 students a day.

The other groups proposed to use Balmoral include:

• Coastal Health who will be providing programs for the At-Risk youth.
• a number of social service agencies including Hollyburn Family Services, PLEA Community Services, Ministry of Child and Family Development, Squamish Nation, City of North Vancouver,Jump-Start – Youth Addiction Outreach, RCMP, Westcoast Alternatives, North Shore Neighbourhood House, Youth Unlimited, North Shore Probation.
• North Shore Recreation Commission offering programs in the facility

While we are characterized as a bunch of NIMBYs, and perhaps we are, perhaps we would have been much more open to the proposed changes if the NVSD were able to address the following concerns:

No Community Consultation and Advisory Representation

There has been no community consultation, or reasonable attempt to engage the local community. The only reason residents became aware of the January 10th presentation was through PAC members infomring their neighbors.

At the January 10th meeting, there was only one local resident on the NVSD Community Advisory group. When questioned why this was the case, the NVSD simply replied they were unable to identify a neighborhood association to contact for volunteer participation (despite the listing for the then-inactive Delbrook Community Association on the District of North Vancouver’s website).  Even now, we have five members on the Community Advisory Working Group, but the total committee has 20 names on it, and nine of their email addresses end with @nvsd44.bc.ca.

No direct efforts were made to engage or inform the community. The only communications have been through the schools. Local residents without children attending public schools in the area had no idea what was being planned.

Inadequate Site Parking and Traffic

The Lucas Centre currently houses many, but not all, of these programs, . On January 9, 2012 there were 257 cars, plus an undisclosed number of cars parked in “staff only” spaces, at Lucas Centre. While not all of the adult education participants will drive to the site, it can be expected that a large proportion will. In addition, parking is needed for the community service groups using the building, students who are driving, police and justice system staff involved in the programs, as well as the NVSD staff providing teaching, supervision and administration.

The Balmoral site currently provides just over 40 staff parking spaces, and if all of the paved areas around the building (includng those under the existing portables) are converted to parking, a maximum of 75 cars can be accommodated. Current residents near Lucas Centre cannot find space to park in front of their own houses.

There will also be constant traffic. The adult education classes are run in the mornings from 8 am onwards. Students are expected to arrive and depart throughout the day attending classes and/or programs in other parts of the school district, in addition to distance education students coming to the site to write exams. Many students will be at school from 9 am to 3 pm while others are enrolled in half day schedules.

And then there are the community services that the school district are hoping will take up residence in the building to support our students.  Figure on fifty cars for the staff alone, but what about their clients?

Superintendent Lewis admitted there have been no studies done regarding the impact on parking within the community, or increased traffic as a result of the proposed building use programs and acknowledged it was not appropriate to present program proposals (particularly noting the adult education program) without complete assessment and information – but stated he was simply following the Boards directive in advancing the proposed program relocations.

No Offsite Supervision or Neighborhood Impact Considerations

The information presented stated the NVSD intends to provide enhanced and careful supervision of students “within the building” but has no control once the students walk out the door. Many students will be at school from 9 am to 3 pm while others are enrolled in half day schedules.

There has been a significant increase in vandalism within the neighborhood as a direct result of the initiative to move students from other communities to Balmoral while Carson Graham is renovated. Students moving through the neighborhood to walk to other areas or catch buses repeatedly paint, kick-down, and otherwise vandalize fences in the area and other property. This occurs throughout the day, not only during breaks, lunch, and after school – despite the curent school supervision efforts. School officials are unwilling to take any measures to help mitigate the problem and simply advice the complainant to contact the police.

Extended Use and Hours of Operation

The Balmoral site will be actively used from 8 am to 10 pm.

The NVSD representatives indicate there will be a “final vote” in February 2012 to confirm next years programs and location of operation.

Two Big Issues Brewing

Two big issues are brewing for the Delbrook community.  First is the question of Balmoral and the new Community Learning Program that the school board will be locating there.  Then there is the impending redevelopment of the William Griffin Community Center and anticipated closing of the Delbrook Community Center.  We’ll be talking about both here.

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