Another school year has begun with no news on the "new" proposed location for the replacement school for Virginia Park Elementary.
In March, the executive team at Eastern School District showed up at the school for a meeting with our school council to discuss a decision by the Provincial Government to deny the board permission to construct the new facility at the location of the old Janeway Hospital.
The meeting came after they informed the Vanier School Council about the proposed three sites. We may be the most impacted, but we certainly were not the first to learn what the plan would be!
Many of us in the community felt that the Janeway site was an idea location and a great compromise. The government cited costs associated with asbestos remediation and lack of "public confidence" in the site as reasons for the decision.
The Virginia Park School Council, parents and concerned residents had been anxiously waiting for the the Department of Education's response to the Eastern School District's to use the land at the site of the now demolished Janeway Children's Hospital for the new school. That recommendation was made in early October of 2010. A year and half later, we were told no. Once again, our hopes were dashed.
After a nine year battle, that began with the Avalon East Board's recommendation to make Virginia Park Elementary a K-3 school, a stay of execution, followed by a commitment to a re-build and than funding for a new school - to no school at all in our neighborhood, to a the Janeway site,....we are back at it again.
The interesting thing is that back in May of 2010, we met to consider four sites that had been proposed to us by Eastern District. We agreed on the current site. However, of the four sites proposed, three were deemed to have environmental issues and were eliminated as options.
They offered us another delay and a promise to look at three additional sites: A site in the White Hills are; Demolition of the old school and the construction of a new school on the site; and the closure of the school and an extension/re-development of the 50 year old Vanier Elementary. Government's consultants have already rejected two of the sites.
It is very hard to have faith in the process.
A consultant was tasked with the job of examining each location and making recommendations. Eastern has promised to share the consultant's report with the Virginia Park School Council when it is finalized.
That commitment was made seven months ago. The School has re-opened for another year ,and thus far, we have heard nothing about the consultants findings. We do not know which site is preferred? What "environmental" or regulatory issues have been discovered or if the report has been completed?
I am looking forward to meeting with the District to discuss the report, prior to them making a decision.
I want a commitment from the board that if the property, where the current school sits, is "environmentally safe" than that is where the new school will be build. In other words, I think there should be a hard and fast commitment that Middleton will not be competing with other sites, as has been the case in the past.
The bottom line is this, I am not personally going to be used by this board, or this government, to implement their agenda to deprive the area of a promised "neighborhood school".
If the process is another ranking, decided by the board, than the process does not work.
Anything less than a commitment to Middleton would make this "NEW" process a fraud.