Coordinating Committee updategreenspun.com : LUSENET : Ottawa School Closures : One Thread
The following report was written by Joan Spice and Dennis Lewycky (Area Three) on last week's Coordinating Committee meeting (comprised of, I think, the chairs and facilitators of the Community Working Groups)
Coordination Committee Representatives
For discussion ......... Coor. Cttee., October 27th
The following is our understanding of the main common issues we shared at the first Coor.Cttee meeting. We have taken these a step further and have offered some direction, that we think would help the CWGs do their work and subsequently would facilitate a more effective input for the Board's decision making on school capacities.
We would like to discuss these thoughts with you and if possible reach some agreement on how we can facilitate this process. If you have immediate thoughts we would like to hear them now. Otherwise, we can deal with them together next Tuesday. (Just a thought for those of you who will be there on the 27th - we may want to go beyond 6:30 to deal with these adequately. Plan to stay on if you can.)
- a) quality of information concerns
A vast amount of information on school capacity, enrolments, Ministry funding, community use of schools and on and on has been shared with the CWGs. There have been concerns about the amount of raw data which has been provided, explanations of terminology that have been somewhat incomplete and therefore confusing, errors in the data, lack of accompanying analysis and the steep learning curve required for many CWG members to understand. These factors were exacerbated by time it took to clarify the mandate of CWGs and the role of the facilitators.
As a result, groups are confronting local anomalies (e.g. new schools in their planning areas, with no enrolment as yet) with little sense of what is involved. Others worry they will be held accountable for recommendations on matters as serious as closures (which will have long term impact), despite inadequate resources to make informed recommendations. Difficulties with access to information has also made some CWG members suspicious that their roles are token gestures, as they perceive decisions to have been already made.
ACTION - While we understand the pressures that Board staff are under in providing this information and no blame is to be assigned, it would help CWGs, if it was acknowledged that the information component of the Study has been inadequate and that this will be taken into consideration by the Board when they consider CWG recommendations.
- b) acceptance of the capacity formula
The formula or logic used to calculate school or student capacity has been vague and confused, and therefore has raised significant CWG concern. In the context of public controversy, a narrow timeframe, and historical suspicions, the formula has therefore become a problem, rather than a basic resource for dealing with the space use issue. The confusion over the accuracy of the various data versions of the school capacities has left some CWGs divided and others constantly seeking clarification and more information (e.g. on the formula, ADE, Boundary histories, etc.).
ACTION - The Board (and therefore the Planning Staff) and the CWGs should adopt the following as a basis for calculating capacity, recognizing the formula is not perfect, but that it can be used as a resource under thecircumstances;
- ADE for 1997/98 should be used as a planning standard
- a 90% tolerance should be adopted for a capacity goal, and
- the formula should be clearly articulated for all to use (note the summary of the space use calculation formula below).
- c) viability of education quality (after closures)
Though it is not being said a lot, underlying all of the concerns of the CWGs is obviously a commitment to the continued and improved quality of education in Ottawa-Carleton. Many CWG members are worried about maintaining programmes, the growing number of portables (or the risk of crowded classrooms) and the increased need and demand for busing students.
ACTION - The Board (and Planning Staff) should indicate to the CWGs how they can maintain their commitment to education quality, in the face of closures that could endanger programming.
ACTION - The CWGs should focus attention in their Reports to the Board, on how programming can be maintained or improved, as a result of their recommendations, and subsequently where school closures are recommended, what measures are necessary to assure the appropriate delivery of education services.
- d) urban/rural linkages
The relationship between city-centre and suburban schools is a fragile one, as there appears to be such different needs and experiences that little commonalty is assumed. The merger of the School Boards, the different urban requirements and problems faced by parents in getting adequate schooling are all at play. The structure of the Study and the division among CWGs also seems to create a dichotomy of interests (though obviously this was not intended).
ACTION - The CWGs agree, that in addition to communicating as much as possible with CWGs that will be directly affected by their recommendations to the Board, they will not 'raid' each others students to deal with their capacity needs.
ACTION - The Board (and Planning Staff) identify tangible ways to minimize the oppositional positioning of inner versus periphery schools, and therefore create positions that build on common, not dissimilar, interests (accepting the 90% tolerance above would do that for example, as it is not only a rational planning assumption but all schools/CWGs would benefit by this formula change).
Space Use Calculation Formula (summary)
The Sept. 17th memo from the OCDSB Superintendent of Facilities and Physical Planning, "Assumed Ministry School Capacities", states which factors are considered part of the formula for calculating funded school space (what space is considered and what is their student 'load') .
For elementary (non-special education) space, these rooms and their loading are
Classrooms (including art, science, laboratories, lunch, family studies) - 25
Resource rooms (which are half the size of a classroom) - 12
Relocatables (which are not the same as portables) - 25
Special Education classrooms (note below) - 9
The following spaces at schools are NOT included/loaded in the formula.
Day Care spaces
Leased out space
ESL rooms - testing rooms
Small group rooms
Instrumental Music rooms Design and Tech. rooms.
Special education space, will be calculated according to different standards. In the Sept.29th memo from Veronica Lacey, Deputy Minister of Education, the following instructions were provided for calculating space usage for special education (spec.ed.) purposes in the formula:
- elementary spec. ed. classrooms are loaded at 9 students, based on current use
- in schools with 10+ classrooms, "the capacity of one of the classrooms be deemed to be 9 in recognition of special education needs". (even if there is no formal spec.ed. programme)
- in schools with 10- classrooms, "Adjustments to the capacity calculations ... will be made if that school currently offers a special education program in a self-contained class." (in other words, if there are designated spec. ed. classrooms, they can be counted as having a loading of 9)
- for larger schools that offer a special education programme, "adjustments will also be made to the capacity calculations ... if the school offers special education programming in two or more self-contained classes." (loading will be calculated as per the number of classrooms designated for spec.ed.)
Joan Spice (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Dennis Lewycky (Area Three)
-- Anonymous, October 24, 1998