By MIKE HAGER
A new UBC elementary school will occupy portables on the site of a neighbouring elementary school until its proper building is completed in August 2013.
The Vancouver School Board gave the go ahead, last Monday, for the new Acadia Road school to enroll students and at portable classrooms on the grounds of Queen Elizabeth elementary.
The new school is meant to stem the overflow of University Hill elementary students who currently take the daily bus to Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary and Southlands schools.
“I think it will support parents in the district and work for both schools,” said school board trustee Ken Clement. “I like the fact that we listened to the parents too.”
During the board’s consultation process, concerned Queen Elizabeth parents voiced their frustration from sharing their grounds the past two years with Ecole Jules Quesnel.
Parent Advisory Council representatives from Queen Elizabeth presented the board with a number of grievances regarding a further two years of sharing space with another school.
Jane Taylor, a Queen Elizabeth mother, said problems have arisen due to the overcrowding and there exists an “unhealthy competition and lack of sense of community amongst the student body.”
The parents proposed an additional vice principal for the new school in order to act as a liaison between the two schools and help foster a unique school culture.
“I think that the school community raised some legitimate concerns around both
wanting to support the idea of the trying to develop a school community for the
Acadia students, but also the importance of the need of having an administrator
for those students,” said school board trustee Jane Bouey.
“At the same time, that administrator being a part of a wider administrative team at Queen Elizabeth. So there’s better communication and less chance of misunderstanding.”
School board trustee Allan Wong said regarding the parents’ additional requests “Most importantly the doors for dialogue and change continues. The other issues such as extra playground supervisors may be included in the upcoming budget process or any time later.”
Ecole Jules Quesnel has been undergoing seismic upgrades during this period, and will soon vacate the Queen Elizabeth portables so the new start-up school can move in this September.
Board officials are predicting a much smoother relationship between the two schools sharing the same playground, lunchroom and schoolgrounds.
“There’ll be far less numbers,” said Henry Ahking, manager of facilities and development. Though a concrete student numbers for the new school won’t be available till registration this September, some prospective students are expected to remain at the schools they now bus to, where they will be grandfathered into the existing population.
The Acadia Road school will include kindergarten students from the UBC area as well as new students and U Hill overflow students who choose to attend.
School overcrowding is not normally an issue at Vancouver schools, earlier this year the school board contemplated closing several Eastside schools with declining enrolments.
The school board’s plan to institute mandatory full-day kindergarten for every elementary school in Vancouver has only added to the stress that will be put on these schools in the coming year of sharing the facilities.