Monday, 6 February 2012

Our Letter to the North Vancouver School District

The following questions (and summary) were posed in a letter sent by our committee to the North Vancouver School District (NVSD):

Will the NVSD commit to: 

1. building covered play area(s) at Highlands Elementary? and
2. submitting the request to the BC Ministry of Education to use a portion of Highland’s budget surplus (“restricted capital funds”) to fund it?

We have the need: Given North Vancouver’s high-precipitation climate, and children’s needs for fresh air and exercise; there is a need for covered play areas. Additionally, the majority of Highlands’s parents indicated, via a school survey, that they feel that covered areas are needed.

We have the budget: Highlands school was built under-budget and those “restricted capital funds” are still available. According to Mr. Abercrombie’s estimates, the total costs of building a covered area could be approximately $80,000 (+/-dependant upon size & building options); this doesn’t seem unreasonable when one considers the overall school budget of 12.9 million and the thousands of children it would serve for generations to come. 

We have the support from the community: The community has expressed their support regarding the need for covered play areas including: numerous students, parents, teachers, MLAs, North Vancouver City and District mayors, Councillors and Trustees, the Edgemont and Upper Capilano Community Association. Even the Ministry of Education encouraged us to continue to pursue this with our school district.

We have the site options:
  • Against Highland’s school building:
  • Along the long, south-face side of the school (Pic 3 under "Highlands Background)
  • This is a very community-visible, exposed area.
  • It could go in the portion without the sunshade or could go under the sunshade (as the sunshade would still shield the heat from the upper classrooms)
  • This covered area could be quite long, which would serve more students (as opposed to building more than one covered area)
  •  Along the rear (east wall) of the school (Pic 4 under "Highlands Background")
  • Although this is an area of potential future expansion, Mr. Abercrombie indicated that the costs of moving a covered area would miniscule with respect to the costs of building the addition.
  • It is quite visible/exposed too.
  • It would serve the portable students and the Kids Club children and would be close to where the playground where the primary students often are.
  • Away from the building:
    • Playground area 
    • Open field 

If the answer to the question above is “No”, then please tell us specifically, why not?

If the answer is “Yes”, how can we all work together to ensure that covered play area(s) are in place at Highlands for the start of the 2012/13 school year?