Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Swap stopped. Earl Grey School survives!

Wow. Well, last night, the decision we were all waiting for came down, and the Winnipeg School Division decided that they would NOT do a swap between Earl Grey and LaVerendrye schools in order to help LaVerendrye's overcrowding problem. To say that many at Earl Grey are relieved is an understatement. Finally, the process is over for us. Our school has been saved. It will not be torn apart. It will not be dismantled. At the moment, our Jr High programs, our day care and Early Childhood Education programs are intact and Earl Grey students still have access to their lunch and after school programs. It is a victory!

At this point, I should clarify that this is a personal post mortem of the situation and I don't speak for anyone else, although I think there are others who do agree with me. I don't want anything said here to reflect badly on anyone else at the school. Yes, we, as a group had our views and opinions and worked as a collective to fight for our school. But, we are also individuals who have our own approaches, views, opinions and ways of dealing with this.

I do feel for the folks at LaVerendrye. They have been fighting for years to have their overcrowding issues dealt with. Some parents at Earl Grey recently went for a tour of the LaVerendrye just so we knew what the place was like if the swap went through, and there is no doubt that the school is cramped, full and they need help. The new plan in place, which is to open up William Osler school, which is within the catchment area for LaV, will help that situation, but the logistics of it seem to have many at LaVerendrye very upset. I think I might agree with their assessment if I was in their position. It is going to be a painful number of years ahead for them to create a new system that suits their needs. I wish them all the best in this and hope that they are able to have it all sorted out as quickly and least painfully as possible.

There were many things that were said and done in this process that hurt a number of people. It was a difficult and divisive situation. I still don't think that some folks at LaV quite understand how our school works and all that was at stake for us to lose. Even now, I feel that there is anger and frustration with Earl Grey, and it's still based in lack of understanding, or a lack of willingness to understand our needs. This swap would have TRULY been a dismantling of Earl Grey, whether LaV intended this to be or not. The swap, as proposed to us, was dismantling, period. Fortunately, it appears that the Winnipeg School Division did hear us clearly and must have understood the problems we would face if a swap had gone through. We presented as best as we could how difficult this would be for us and we explained in detail the full impact of such a move. So, the hurt feelings continue with this lack of understanding or acceptance of what a swap would mean, even now. With this part of the process now over, however, maybe we can move on. In many ways, it doesn't matter any more. I, personally, know and understand how devastating a swap would have been to Earl Grey. But, now that option is off the table, regardless of what anyone says, it no longer really matters.

In the end, we all want what is best for our kids. The passion shown in this process illustrates our commitment and dedication to getting a result that is good for them. And no matter what feelings may be between some of the parents, the kids are not part of the problem. They are, after all, our children. They deserve a decent education, they deserve to be treated with respect and care and they deserve a community that they feel safe and comfortable in. And, I am sure every parent on both sides of the equation can agree on this. They are our kids, and we love them.

And now, we must carry on. Decisions have been made. There is plenty of work to be done. For Earl Grey, it looks like there might be big, exciting things on the horizon with full day kindergarten being added and possibly, down the road, a dual track French/English program. For the folks at LaV, they have work to do with the Trustees and the Winnipeg School Division to develop a solution that works well for them.

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