On behalf of the North Vancouver Board of Education, I would like to provide some perspective on recent reporting and correspondence in the North Shore News regarding the future of Balmoral school.
At our Nov. 15 public meeting, the board approved Balmoral as the location of the future Community Learning Program. The program is a component of an organization of learning services under the umbrella of the North Vancouver School District Learning Centre.
Beginning in September 2012, the learning centre will provide specialized support for students in grades 9 to 12 with diverse learning needs.
The site location represents a change in the school community from a junior secondary school serving approximately 650 students in grades 8-10, to a school serving a more diverse student population of approximately 225, including vulnerable and at-risk students with a range of social, emotional and educational needs. Creating a supportive environment with our partner agencies to minimize student anxiety around attending school, reducing the risk of school avoidance and helping students remove barriers to their academic success is a priority for our school district. Without these additional wraparound supports and services, these students are "at-risk" of faltering within our education system, and possibly withdrawing from school altogether.
As educators and citizens, we believe that school is the best possible place for young people to establish themselves on a positive path towards their life goals. We cannot separate schools from the wider social context in which they operate. From the neighborhood settings in which our schools are situated, to their central purpose in educating students and preparing them for life as productive members of society, all schools need the recognition and support of the whole community.
Franci Stratton, Chairperson North Vancouver Board of Education