Mission parents speak on reconfiguration

Pros and cons voiced over maintaining status quo or changing models

Consolidating Mission’s three high schools into one, and leaving the other two buildings as middle schools was the preferred option for a number of speakers at Thursday night’s public information forum.

About 200 people packed into the cafetorium at Heritage Park school to voice their opinions on whether the Mission Public Schools should explore reconfiguring. Speakers were asked whether they wanted to maintain the status quo (three schools housing Grades 7-12) or separate the younger grades from the more senior students.

Currently, the district operates a school within a school model for Grades 7, 8 and 9, which has proven unpopular with a number of parents since its inception in 2010.

Several Mission teachers also took the microphone all with a similar message.

“We do not have enough courses now,” said Al Lafontaine, a teacher at Heritage Park. “We are leading to an education death in our community.”

A fellow Heritage Park teacher, Sandy Chambers, said she’s “totally in favour of looking at a different model.

She said there are no higher level courses (advanced placement and honours) offered because there are not enough students. As well, athletically, if there were one high school, it would be much easier to field teams and find coaches.

Scott Young, the DPAC vice-chair, said he thinks more research needs to be done first.

“There are too many unanswered questions,” he said, including what would happen with staffing levels, programs, busing, etc. “I can’t believe the question is being asked without some research being presented.”

There were some who spoke in favour of the status quo.

More than one speaker spoke about bullying, saying that some students need to move to a different school if their situation can’t improve in the current building.

“If all the kids are in one school, where is their safe haven,” queried another.

Since the board was elected about two years ago, trustees have been inundated with concerns about having Grade 7 students in the same environment as Grade 12s. In the 2012/13 school year, there were 782 Grade 7-12 students at Heritage Park Secondary, 1,078 students at Mission Secondary, and 823 students at Hatzic Secondary.

To offer more input, emails can be sent to secondarychoices@mpsd.ca.