Terri Sleeva’s notes from the Regina Public School Board’s “Renewal” meeting at Usher High School document a number of issues which the Regina Board of Education has failed to address in the plan for closing Usher and other Regina schools.
It is essential, I believe, that the valid questions raised here and elsewhere be addressed before any closures go ahead. What is at stake is the quality of education of Regina’s children. The RBE has not taken this into account in their plan for renewal.
Here’s Terri’s report:
Usher Closure Meeting with Board of Education Trustees/January 17, 2008
School renewal process
Nov, 2007 – Pass recommendation of 3 school closures
Final decision March 11, 2008
- Addressed students mainly because Usher is about their kids
- 587 students when opened in 1979
- Is a community and not an institution
- Any child removed from the school due to economic status is one too many
- Many concerns as a community
- As a community we think of the issues of students terrified to go to another school, having problems with participating in extra curricular activities, violence, social rejection, money for gas, teacher rejection, transportation, being able to afford bus passes and lunch money.
- Thom Collegiate has had no response towards taking in Usher students
- Top three academically in math and English
- Putting one or two children in a high school is minor; placing 200 in a high school is a tsunami
- Children do adapt, teenage adults do not.
- Money is not being wasted, but being used to increase education
- 357 students
- Lowest vandalism
- Only high school in 25 years to receive a standing ovation from the Mayor of Regina
- If you have to work to bring the students into another community or school, then you should be able to work to bring children into this community
Transportation and Safety – Kim Anderson
How am I going to get to school?
- Many students walk to school
- A big obstacle for low income families because bus passes are $42.00 a month.
- Regina Transit is not very accommodating. Students will have to wait for buses as early as 7:15am and with travel time of up to 68 minutes. Many buses have short arrival times, leaving students with as much as 3 minutes to get to class. To compensate for this, children will have to take a bus 40 minutes earlier.
- After 6:15pm buses only run once every hour, which makes it impossible to do extra curricular activity
- Choir programs run early in the morning so students would have to go earlier then normal
- Transferring buses downtown is a major concern
- To Thom, with service only in Uplands area with a ride of 15 minutes
Safety – Kim Anderson
- Resource officers states that 5% of the students are considered to be bad apples
- Comments from other high school students – “Usher students are too gangster and it will cause fights.”
Small Schools – Val Dodman
- Smaller classroom sizes are the best for learning because it gives more one on one time for learning
- By cramming as many students as you can into one room you are ignoring what the school system is made for – to give the best education possible to students. In actuality the school board’s responsibility is to build more facilities to get the best education possible.
· Why are smaller schools better:
· greater success in smaller schools
· larger graduation rates
· smaller student-teacher ratio means students can get help to understand better
· allow extra curricular activities (all kids who register get to participate, which boosts confidence)
· can identify more emotional and educational problems among children
· less vandalism
· give children a chance to walk or cycle to school and be more active
· allows children to go home right after school or at lunch to look after younger siblings.
Real Renewal for the Public School Board – Karen Wilke & Patricia Elliott
- Lead best when we lead by example
- Seek out office space in schools that are experiencing low enrollment
“You will demonstrate all though change is hard, chaotic, and disturbing, that you have not asked young children, staff or families to do anything that you yourselves are not willing to do.”
- By moving to different buildings you will be prolonging the building use, and helping the school to stay open.
- Opportunity to work with school and staff
- You will experience the lives of the students
- Parents are not just nostalgic and emotional.
- They care because educational standards are about to be lowered.
- This plan is a replay of similar plans developed in the U.S. in the past 20 years that have since proven to be disastrous for students and communities. U.S. school districts are not trying to rebuild their small neighbourhood schools.
- The School Board has done little or no research into the potential impacts of school closures, relying on a single literature review done hastily in Toronto.
- The Board should not be so worried about whether their decision will be unpopular – of course it will be – but should rather be worried about whether their decision will be deeply flawed. It seems you are planning to spend a lot of money to make things worse.
Community – Donna Dubasov
· Not enough time for students to show other schools how great they really are
Economics – Karen Zibreski
· Average house amount in area of school is $119,000
· Average house amount surrounding Thom is $166,000
· Average house amount surrounding Winston Knoll $232,000
· Can all of the community afford to send their children to a school out of the community?
Government Issues and Interaction of Usher students with Elementary – Bill Trenaman
- Elementary schools always use Usher for their grade 8 graduations and for other big functions
Vocational Education – Rick Knibbs & Tyler Stewart
- Easy to make friends at Robert Usher
- What will happen to all of the stuff inside of the school if it is closed (trophies etc.)?
- Usher has so much to offer and so much to give
- If we lose one because of drops outs and drugs, it’s one too many
Seniors’ Presentation – Cel Shtuka, Agnes Moldenhauer, Elfrieda Wolfe & Joyce Anderson
- On a limited budget, I am able to enjoy the school’s functions and productions for a small price
- Study at a large school in Toronto found that:
57% carry knives
42% carry hand guns
12% sexually assaulted in school
- Results showing that small schools are more safer
Student Representative Council
- Many school achievements in both academics and athletics
Questions that are voiced by students:
- Will a plan be developed to transport students to other schools?
- This building is in good shape, why close it?
- Have they thought about how to keep Usher sustainable rather then close it?
- Have they considered the effects that closing will have on the community?
- Why were we only giving 4 months when other schools have 3 to 4 years?
- Why is only school size being considered?
- What will they do with the building, will they sell it? Where will the money go if the property is sold?
- What will happen to the local businesses?
- Will I be safe at a new school? Will I be accepted?
- How will we be sure that students are comfortable?
- What will be done to prevent violence at a new school?
- What if we can not afford to take the city bus?
- Fear of rejection from other students?
- What happens to Usher’s banners, graduation pictures etc. that we have taken so much pride in?
- How do we deal with the negative image that other students have of Usher students?
- Are we not going to have the opportunity to be the SRC president, Valedictorian, or team captain?
- What are our chances of getting scholarships at a large school?
- If you participate in after school activities, how will you get home if you rely on the bus?
What does Usher mean to you? (students)
- Like my second home, I am here more then my own home
- Everyone I know is here
- Opportunities for scholarships in a small school
- Chance for opportunities in music program, yearbook club, sports teams, etc.
- Friendly people
- Get along with anybody (no little cliques)
- Welcomed with open arms
- Love going to school, knowing that you are going to have a great day
- It means going to school and seeing happy faces
- Know everyone and have many close friends
- Lots of fun while learning
- Sense of security and safety
- The very big size that the other schools may become
Fine arts programs
Adult campus that runs (you give them a second chance, so give our children one chance)