The Sea to Sky school district will meet this month to close schools during the Olympic Games even though no deals are in place to lease out school space.
“…There has been absolutely no information as to how our schools will be utilized during the Games,” said Cathy Jewett, the chair of the District Parent Advisory Council for Sea to Sky.
Meetings regarding the calendar and how school space would be used have been going on between stakeholders for about two years. At one meeting, said Jewett, there were some discussions of the high schools being used by security or medical personnel. There has never been any interest in leasing out the elementary school space.
It is unclear as to how compensation would be offered. The Vancouver Organizing Committee has stated that legacy assets would be offered in return for the space, not cash.
However, there has been a community understanding that there would be money from the deal as the hope was to use the cash to pay for the programming needed to look after the hundreds of kids out of school while parents worked or volunteered at the Games.
Dave Walden, chair of the school board, said discussions with VANOC about their utilizing the empty schools has become frustrating.
“The patience of the board is running thin,” he said.
In an e-mail, Games organizers would say: “…that it is
currently in the process of exploring a number of options for temporary housing
during Games time.
“The proposed closure for Whistler Secondary school covers a
length of time that is potentially suitable for Games-time use of the space.
However, given the stage of discussions and planning it would be premature to
comment further at this time.”
There are other unsolicited offers for the school space said Walden.
In 2007 VANOC requested that all four high schools in the district be closed to house volunteers and other workforce during the event.
VANOC asked that elementary schools stay open because it recognized that working parents would have to take vacations at Games time to look after their kids if they closed. The RMOW also wanted the schools to stay open.
However, after community meetings and a survey it was decided that all elementary schools would close for a spring break week during the Olympics, the high schools in Pemberton and Squamish would close for two weeks and the Whistler high school would close for three weeks and two days.