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School boundaries make sense

In response to the letter from Beth Harlow in the last issue of the Pique, I wish to comment on behalf of the Board. The Board made the decision on the Myrtle Philip Community School boundary. Therefore it is most appropriate for the Board to answer for the decision and process.

The School Board recognizes the frustration and anger of a number of Spruce Grove/White Gold parents regarding the school boundary decision.

The reality of the geography of Whistler and the central location of Myrtle Philip Community School is that there is no school boundary decision that will satisfy everyone.

The School Board went through a lengthy public input process commencing in November, 2001, culminating with a public meeting in Whistler on March 13, 2002. Option 1 received only one more positive response than Option 2 on the survey of parents.

The problem with Option 1 (all students north of Alta Vista go to Myrtle Philip) was, and is, that it will result in too many students at Myrtle Philip. At the public Board meeting on March 13, 2002, Spruce Grove/White Gold presenters argued that a migration of families from the north to the south of Whistler was underway and that this would result in Option 1 becoming viable over time. In an attempt to be responsive to these parents, and despite the misgivings of some Trustees and many in the audience, the Board voted to select Option 1, subject to a review when new enrollment numbers became available. If the migration of families did not occur then the Board would revert to Option 2.

The Board voted to commence the review in November 2002 and to make a decision by January 2003. In response to a question from the floor, Chair Amy Shoup made it clear that the decision could be made as early as November.

The boundary issue was discussed at Myrtle Philip PAC meetings in the fall of 2002 and the Board was specifically asked by the PAC – the official voice of the parents of elementary students in Whistler – to make the decision as soon as possible to facilitate planning.

Thus, the information that the Board might make a decision as early as November was available to those who attended the entire March 13 meeting, or read the minutes of the meeting, or attended any MPCS meeting in September, October or November, 2002.

The Board regrets that Ms. Harlow was unaware of this timing. Effective communication with all stakeholders on issues of concern is one of the most difficult challenges the School District faces.

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