Saturday, October 8, 2011

Guest Editorial by Kendal Kelly on School Use

Maybe it is time to bring an outside arbitrator into this mess. Over the last sixteen years some incredible things have happened in the world, and yet the egos of the District and School District 70 can't even solve what should be a pretty straight forward negotiation. And all the while it is the community members and their children that are held ransom. Don't we live in Canada? This seems more like something that might be happening Libya.

I know I have spent countless hours trying to help with a resolution. I have hired individuals to clean the grounds after slow pitch games, organized work bees to improve the fields and met with both the District and SD70 representitives on several occasions. In doing so, I have had an opportunity to hear both sides often, The way I see it(I haven't been involved for a year or so) is like this. SD70 wants someone to clean up after each use of after school users. Whether it is the ball fields or the gym, they do not think it is right that the children have to come to school in the morning to find trash on the fields or in the halls and washrooms etc. Likewise, they shouldn't have to encounter human feces in the bushes when they are playing at recess. Sd70 is asking the district be responsible for the above by providing the labour to make sure the clean up is done and to provide washroom facilities. Likewise, they would like the District to provide the top dressing for the fields every other year and to begin to put aside 12-15 grand each year to help replace the gym floor in 5-7 years. In turn SD70 will mow, punch, fertilize and spread the top dressing as well as upkeep the backstops, gym floor etc.

This seems like a bargain for the
District. There is no lost opportunity costs for land that would have to be used to provide the facilities that the school presently does. The upkeep is split rather than the District having to do it all if they had facilities. The pressure to build facilities would be non existent. For arguments sake, lets say it cost the District $50,000 for the washroom and $30,000 per year for their share of maintenance. That is cheap cheap.

The Districts reasons for not agreeing to this. For the most part, that council believes we already pay enough in taxes to SD70 and that because it is designated a community school, it should be available to the public. They also suggest that because of WCB, and liability concerns they cannot work on the property. Also,they contend that they simply can't afford it. Kind of a lame arguement when you consider that they spend $20,000 plus each year for council and staff to attend UBCM. Likewise, what would it cost to provide similar facilities?

I have to laugh each summer when they have Brendon Morrison play shinny with the kids at the roller arena on SD70 land. Pictures in the paper, high fives all around, hey world look at us. Then 2 months later the kids are locked out of the school. Oh, and did I mention the soliciting for the MUP, playround equipment, raise a reader and on and on. Does either side ever stop to think that the families that donate to these worthwhile causes are the same families being effected by the immaturity of the 2 sides. Likewise, these are the same families that finally move on to communities that want to be just that. A place where people can access recreation, meet their neighbors, share positive experiences and so on. Heck, I bet it won't take Tripoli 16 years to provide all of that!!

I know their are probably some new issues on the table since I was involved, but that has always been the way. The goal posts are always moving. Please please please, all involved, at the next meeting can you check your egos at the door and at least agree to bring an arbitrator to the table.

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