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Planning under way as concerns grow that Spring Creek Elementary School won’t open on time

Contingency plans are being put in place at Myrtle Philip elementary school as administrators face the very real possibility that the new Spring Creek Elementary won’t open on time.

Contingency plans are being put in place at Myrtle Philip elementary school as administrators face the very real possibility that the new Spring Creek Elementary won’t open on time.

"We need contingency plans in place in case something goes wrong," said Ron Albertin, Myrtle Philip and Spring Creek principal.

"We have received the updated schedule which indicates that substantial completion will be around Aug. 18.

"Having said that we still have a lot of reservations that it will come about.

"There is no flexibility (with that schedule).

"Everything has to go exactly as it is supposed to, to meet that date. We are quite nervous."

Spring Creek was to open this September for the start of the school year.

Fears over a delay have even prompted the Howe Sound School Board to put forward a motion for the Grade 7s to continue on at Whistler Secondary for the 2003-2004 school year.

With Spring Creek open the plan was to have Grade 7s return to elementary school. They moved to Whistler Secondary because there was no room for them at Myrtle Philip.

But since that is still the case, Albertin told the Myrtle Philip Parent Advisory Council meeting this week, the best choice is to leave them where they are. And moving the Grade 7s from a high school environment back to elementary school really wasn’t an option.

"That just wouldn’t work for them," said Albertin.

Albertin, parents, and other school staff are now working on plans to have kindergarten to Grade 6 classes for both schools running simultaneously at Myrtle Philip.

Nothing is set in stone yet, but one idea would be to have Spring Creek kids and staff use the portables at Myrtle Philip. Then when it is time to move there is little or no disruption to Myrtle Philip and the Spring Creek kids are settled in with their peers and teachers already.

The ministry of education will continue to fund the portables until the new school is operational.

It’s likely, said Albertin, that the Spring Creek kindergarten class will stay inside Myrtle Philip for health and safety reasons.

Under the current boundary plans kids in the village, the Benchlands, White Gold, and Spruce Grove will go to Spring Creek, along with all students south of Blueberry.

This will place 213 students in Grades 1-7 and 30 in kindergarten at Spring Creek. Myrtle Philip will have 254 in Grades 1-7 and 33 in kindergarten.

The Francophone school, with about 65 students, will also move to Spring Creek.

But the boundary is not set in stone and if the population shifts the boundary can shift too.

This is not the first delay Spring Creek has faced.

Originally the doors were scheduled to open in September 2001. That date was then pushed back to September 2002 as the district waited for title to the land and the subsequent release of provincial funds.

Following more discussion the date was pushed back to January 2003 and then to September of this year.

Meanwhile, the Myrtle Philip PAC also passed a motion this week to write a letter in support of Leanne Dufour’s quest to get the B.C. Ombudsman’s office to investigate the circumstances surrounding the bullying of her daughter and the subsequent investigation by police, Whistler Secondary, and the Howe Sound School Board.

Dufour’s daughter was badly beaten and harassed by fellow students at Whistler Secondary in 1998. She was 15 at the time.

Two girls were convicted of assault and ordered to stay away from Dufour but the harassment continued.

Finally Dufour left Whistler and continued her education elsewhere.

Throughout the ordeal, said Leanne Dufour, the family received little if any support and help. They finally decide to sue the school board in an effort to get accountability for what happened.

But last year the Dufours were forced to drop their suit after the school board counter-sued. The family just couldn’t afford the long legal battle.

Leanne Dufour, who travels the province and speaks on bullying, still wants to find out what happened in the hopes of rooting out policies which don’t work and building an environment which won’t accept harassment of any kind.

"If this can happen to our family, it can happen to anyone’s," Dufour told the PAC.

The motion to write the letter was passed unanimously.

It is an issue under close scrutiny at Myrtle Philip. The PAC is in the process of reviewing the current code of conduct and the policies, which govern it to make sure, it is the best it can be.

Chair Cathy Jewett held up newspaper clippings about a stabbing at a West Vancouver School and this week Edmonton City Council voted on a bylaw which would make it the first Canadian city with an anti-bullying law carrying a $250 fine.

"This isn’t something that can be ignored," said Jewett.

Continuing with its focus on helping parents help their kids the PAC has organized a series of seminars on Restitution with Don Ross Secondary counsellor Rose MacKenzie.

Restitution is an attitude and an approach to resolving conflicts and situations. It teaches principles that enable children and youth to live in a community that focuses on strengthening individuals rather than isolating them through coercive measure.

The seminars will be held March 27, April 3, 10, 17, 24 and May 1, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Horstman room at Myrtle Philip.

Registration is required. Call MPCS at 604-932-5321 by March 25. Donations will be accepted at the door to go toward costs.

The next Myrtle Philip PAC meeting will be April 15 at 7 p.m. at the school.