I suppose I should take some of the responsibility for the children in our community not having school during the Olympics, for all this conversation and the hardship that parents are feeling.
When I was a school trustee I just saw opportunity. I saw the Olympics as the passing on of the torch and passion for the culture of sport. I saw one of the opportunities of the Olympics coming to a small town, that everyone could get behind the children of this community to make the experience even more unique and special than it could ever be in a larger venue. I envisioned the need for our wonderful high school youth to be a part of the Olympics because they have so many skills and because of the pride they hold for our town.
I saw the need for younger children to be cared for, not only during school hours but from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., and that the possibility of the schools not operating as normal would allow the community as a whole to come together with the school district to provide meaningful all-day care of children in the school facilities. I envisioned VANOC as a partner in this because when an organizing committee comes into a small town and takes over so much to put on the events, and asks so many of us to help, surely they would want to partner with all of us to help work on a care plan for the children of the community. Surely they would see the value in this to inspire a core group of young people of all ages in the culture of sport.
But how wrong I was. Some time ago now, at a Parent Advisory Meeting at Myrtle Philip, I remember hearing for the first time, like you, that VANOC was interested in renting all the district secondary schools for the housing of volunteers. Immediately many of you asked us - the trustees of the day - what we were getting money-wise for these rentals, and why were we letting VANOC dictate what the schools do. Well, at that time we had no contract, we had no proposal from VANOC in writing and thus we, the school board of the day, tried hard to survey and engage all in a fact finding mission as to all the possibilities that could be for 2010.
When the board decided on the closure schedule there was enough interest district-wide for a one-week elementary closure, and one aspect was clear - a common closure for the whole district was more desirable. Considering the secondary schools, because the board had no evidence that there would be a youth work force in 2010, it was decided upon the advice of secondary principals to close them during the Olympic period as well. To accommodate the expected added activities in Whistler and the greater possibility for student involvement over a longer period of time, as well as the rental of the facility, it was decided to close Whistler Secondary for the entire 17-day period of the Games. It was always the intention of the board to put any monies gained from rentals towards the care of children.