Protect Ross Road Elem LIBRARY and other Critical Learning Spaces

  • by: Christy G
  • recipient: Mark Pearmain, North Vancouver School Dist Superintendent, Board of Education North Van School District Trustees Christie Sacre, Jessica Stanley, Barry Forward, Cyndi Gerlach, Megan Higgins, Susan Skinner, Franci Stratton, Mike Bernier, former Minister of

Important changes will occur September 2017 as a result of discussions between the Province of BC and the BCTF around class size and composition. At Ross Road Elementary many parents have expressed gratitude for the positive effect this will have on teachers and their improved ability to provide excellent learning outcomes for our children. However due to the need for more classroom spaces, there are real concerns about the collateral damage to our already limited learning spaces.

A likely solution being considered by the School Board is to create classroom spaces by re-purposing 80 sq metres of the Ross Road library. (out of 236 sq metres of the current library) We believe this is compromising our children's education and is counter to the School Board's stated mission to provide equal access to education for all.

Please consider signing the attached petition letter and add your comments below. It is important our voices and concerns are heard now while decisions are still being contemplated.

We are writing to express our concerns regarding the plan to transform the library space at Ross Road School into a classroom for next school year. We learned of this plan last Friday, May 19. We have concerns regarding the plan itself and also why the Ross Road community was not officially informed and consulted. We understand this plan is a direct result of the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision to mandate that the BC Government return class size and composition in all BC public schools to 2002 levels. While we are firmly in support of this decision to increase the number of teachers and reduce class sizes, we are concerned about the implementation. The BC Government was mandated to hire sufficient teachers to meet the 2002 requirements, however, they were not mandated to support these teachers with sufficient resources and infrastructure to enable them to effectively do their jobs. Ross Road School is already a very large elementary school, with 533 students this school year, and every space in the school is fully utilized. In addition, the school already has portables and an annex. The library is a vibrant space in our school, used throughout the day by classes and individual students and teachers seeking resources. It is also used for presentations and workshops for students, teachers and parents, teacher collaboration and meetings, and PAC meetings. We believe the library space is not currently available to be used as a classroom, it is an important learning environment and contributes positively to student learning and overall school success. A more practical solution for Ross Road School would be to rent an additional portable to use temporarily, until a more long term solution to the district wide need to increase the number of classroom spaces can be addressed. Our understanding is that the plan for Ross Road School is to greatly reduce the size of the library, turning most of it into a classroom. A significantly reduced space would not enable the library to continue to be used for all its present functions. With the current library space gone, workshops and meetings will need to be moved to the gym. The gym at Ross Road is currently a revenue-generating space, and is used after school by many community groups. If the school needs to use the gym, then the school district will lose this source of revenue. We also have concerns about the message that the school district is sending to students, with respect to the importance of literacy, by reducing the size and importance of the library. In addition, Ross Road School has a substantial collection of books and resources in its library, where will these be stored and accessed if the size of the library is significantly reduced? We understand that this issue is not just a Ross Road School issue, but is happening in schools across our district and around the province. We would very much like the members at the North Vancouver School Board of Education to be advocates for our students and our schools by communicating our concerns regarding the importance of and need for an increase in educational funding to the BC Government. We expect the new teachers who have been hired to be properly funded, not just in teacher salaries, but also in resources and infrastructure, so all teachers in BC public schools can focus on providing the best possible education for all our students. You, as a Trustee and/or a member of the Ministry or School Board, can make decisions regarding allocation of financial resources and we encourage you to place priority on funding for our classrooms. With a strong political will, difficult decisions can and should be made to ensure that our students have sufficient classroom space while protecting other important learning environments, like libraries, music rooms, art rooms, and learning support spaces. We greatly appreciate your time and attention to this very important matter. We look forward to your response, updating us on your exploration of alternate solutions for new classroom space at Ross Road School and informing us about your actions to advocate with the BC Government for increased funding for our school district. Sincerely signed, Parents and Community members of Ross Road Elementary
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