Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Earl Grey and LaVerendrye: THE SHOWDOWN!

Well, tonight was the night. The BIG night, when both LaVerendrye School and Earl Grey School got to make their presentations to the Winnipeg School Division Trustees in regards to a proposed school swap. In this corner, LaVerendrye School, dedicated to taking over Earl Grey School in a swap! In that corner, Earl Grey School, desperately trying to stop the swap and save what we have worked so hard to create.

Now, once again, I know. LaVerendrye has a serious overcrowding issue. We got that. And there is no one, from what I can see, that doesn't acknowledge this. It's just fact. How they got to that point is just bad decision making by several parties. We got it. They need help. However, as was made abundantly clear by the presenters representing LaVerendrye, the ONLY option that they seem to be remotely interested in is a full school swap with Earl Grey School...oh, and by September 2015. But, according to one presenter, they aren't interested in displacing kids, ignoring the fact that this is EXACTLY what a swap is.

Yes, the whole evening, during all of LaVerendrye's presenting, not once, NOT ONCE, was any of the other options available to alleviate their overcrowding issue given any weight, if mentioned at all. The ONLY option that these folks are interested in is a full swap, with EG, in September. End of story. No room for negotiation. Yet, YET, apparently, as we were told, we are supposed to be a community, working together for the best solution for our WHOLE community. What this basically translates to is, LaV wants Earl Grey School, and because it is good for LaV, it is good for the whole community. Got it.

We were told that a swap really is in the best interest of everyone...including the taxpayer. This is based on...what? How do they know this without an assessment that determines which of the options available is the most cost effective? And, also, most cost effective does NOT translate to most effective overall. And, as far as I am concerned, a deal that displaces Earl Grey students, dissolves our Junior High program, puts the Early Child Care Center, day care options, Earl Grey Community Center programs and Montessori programs at RISK (if not out and out wiped out) is NOT the most effective way to deal with the LaVerendrye overcrowding issue.

It just seemed rather condescending of the LaV presenters to imply that the losses will be minimal and that there really is not much to this. No, the losses are NOT minimal. We lose our Jr. High program with absolutely no guarantees of where our Jr. High kids are going to go. We know that the Earl Grey Children's Centre is licensed ONLY for Earl Grey School. It ain't going anywhere. And, the distance between the LaV school site and Earl Grey School is significant enough to make transportation (so far we have been offered, vaguely, a walking school bus option) between the two schools a challenge for kids who are, say, 5 years old, particularly when it's blizzardy or extremely cold outside. And, has anyone ever tried to walk with 20 five year olds in full winter gear? Gawd dang it. It takes me 10 minutes to get my two kids across the frickin' street in the dead of winter.

But, you know what? Earl Grey is able to adapt, you know, we can make anything work. It's all possible. We can do it, we can overcome any obstacles to make this work. The Earl Grey families can do it, we were told by a LaVerendrye presenter! That's great. Apparently, the LaV folks can't adapt to any other options other than taking over Earl Grey, but us at Earl Grey can adapt to anything. Funny how that is. It's always easier for the OTHER party to adapt. Thanks guys! No, no, don't worry, we will be just fine. You told us we will be, so, heck, who are WE to question your mighty judgement. GAWD!

So, basically, in a condescending way, we were told that we have nothing to worry about, and our concerns are overblown, or...whatever. Well, you can guess how well that went over with the Earl Grey families in attendance. Let me tell you, no bridges were built tonight. Having our concerns swept under the table, once again, was not a nice experience. But, apparently, if the swap goes through, we, the Earl Grey families, are going to come together, have a great Barbeque and share some Memory books of some sort, according to one Lav presenter, laughing at all the memories before we go on to the bigger and better things open to us in a smaller school that will limit our growth, where the Earl Grey school community is ripped apart. Oh, the joy! It's so nice that they painted this rosey picture of how beautiful it will all be when after their hostile takeover. What condescending wankery. The nerve.

The Earl Grey representatives did do a good presentation and laid out well how the school is utilized, pointed out the fact that Earl Grey is GROWING, pointed out that our school population is pretty darn reliant on the programs offered by the adjacent community centre (called Earl Grey Community Centre, for frick sakes) that we will be pulled away from, and that we have a SUCCESSFUL, integrated, complete package that should be emulated, not torn apart, that is years, if not decades ahead of it's time. I mean, we really DO have a great setup that took years to develop and build, that is a complete, pre-school to grade 8 experience. And, a swap is going to dismantle this, no question about it, no matter how much some wish to insist that it won't. We will be going back years, if not decades from where we are now. And, the impression from last night is not only do LaV parents not understand the nature of our school or what we have built and why a swap would be so destructive, they basically showed that they don't give a fu....I mean, darn.

And, frustratingly, we keep being told that Earl Grey School can hold 600 students. We KNOW that it can't. This is an outdated figure. Completely outdated .There needs to be a reevaluation of the school here. With class size limits, dedicated rooms for computer labs, etc, it is no longer able to suit the needs of 600 students. So, why does it matter? If LaV is going into this with this idea that Earl Grey is an under utilized school, with cavernous amounts of space collecting cobwebs, then they have got their hopes way up, and this is a problem. The truth is, if LaV is going to keep growing as it seems to be doing, it ain't going to be all that long before they are looking at space issues at the Earl Grey site. It's that simple. And then what? We get kicked out of our school, shoved into LaV, and then in a few years, they have to attend to the issue of space...again? Why do this? Just fix this RIGHT from the beginning. Do what should be done, which is to open a second French Milieu school that will allow the program to grow. And leave Earl Grey School where it is, so it can grow, like it is doing. Don't put US in a situation where we don't have room to grow and continue to develop.

There ARE other options, but they were not discussed by LaV tonight at all. They only want to pursue ONE option, and that is the one that just happens to be most destructive to Earl Grey. And they are fixated on it, believing it is the end all and be all answer. But, apparently, they are willing to work with us to make the move work. That's just lovely! Thank you SO much for that. Unfortunately, you know what, we don't WANT to move because it is a bad deal for us. What LaV wants is for a swap to happen, no matter what. They aren't interested in working with us for a solution. They are interested in dictating the solution, which is a full swap, and they could care less about us.

Given this, we don't really have much choice. Our back is against the wall. We have been shoved into a corner. We know what we want, and that is to save our school and it's community which is working so well, but is under threat of being dismantled. This community IS divided. It IS an us vs them scenario, despite the fact that no one wants that. But, we can't escape it. We are two parties pitted against each other, and the divide deepened last night through lack of understanding, empathy, plenty of misinformation and just general condescending rhetoric from the LaV presenters. And, we at Earl Grey have to defend what we have, for our kids today and into the future, especially when the other side, at LaV have determined that they will ONLY pursue one option, and that is to take over our school and push us into the LaVerendrye school site. That's it. No other option works for them. And we are left to do everything we can to stop the swap.

No comments:

Post a Comment