Parents up in arms over school splitting proposal

Cowichan Secondary School parents are furious with the school district for attempting to push through a plan to split the high school.

Cowichan Secondary School parents are furious with the school district for attempting to quickly push through a plan to split the dual-campus high school in half.

At a quickly-called special meeting Jan. 19, schools superintendent Rod Allen was able to get board support to move forward on investigating the idea of having two high schools instead of one big one with the change possibly happening in time for September 2016.

According to Caroline Kirman, president of the district parents advisory council (DPAC), parents were stunned to read about the decision.

“There was an overwhelming response from DPAC,” she said, explaining that parents swung into action quickly to voice their concerns last week.

Parents are demanding deeper, fuller consultation, rather than simply a presentation of a solution, Kirman said, calling this action by the district “inappropriate”.

They are also upset because no one seems to have considered what effect such an announcement could have on the students so close to provincial exams, she said.

A consultation with the public was to have been held on Jan. 28 but the district has shelved that idea without stating a reason for the cancellation.

Kirman said she thought if that meeting had been held, the feedback would have been “very reactionary and emotional” because “you can’t give people a week’s notice before such an important discussion. Many people were blindsided.”

Parents are angry that the district could even consider pushing the move through so the change would be in place by this September. The reaction at a meeting of the school’s PAC last week was blunt. It was along the lines of, “Are you kidding?” Kirman said.

The school’s population is already abuzz with questions from parents, students and teachers with concerns being raised about whether science courses would be available at both schools, what would happen to French immersion classes, and whether students would be able to graduate with their friends.

Parents don’t even want board decisions on this idea made before the end of November.

“I think they got the message strong and clear,” Kirman said.