Fine arts academy wanted

Survey asked parents what factors are important in choosing a school, how far they are willing to travel

Members of the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school board said they have had a good response to their online facilities review questionnaire, with some 600 responses already.

The survey asks parents what factors are important to them in choosing a school, how far they are willing to travel for choice programs, and what choice programs should be offered the district.

The most asked-for choice programs were a fine arts academy (46 per cent), secondary environmental education (33 per cent), horticultural trades (29 per cent) and an International Baccalaureate program for age 11-16 students (28 per cent).

Only 16 per cent of respondents said they are already satisfied with the choices offered by the school district.

About 73 per cent of the surveys were filled out by parents, and 25 per cent by district employees.

The online survey closes May 25 at 4 p.m.

The next step will be two open houses on June 8 and June 10 to consult with the public


In the movies

School District 42 will be asking for higher rent when motion picture production companies want to shoot at schools in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

The City of Maple Ridge offers a film liaison service that aims to provide production companies a “one-stop shop” for all their location scouting, permits and licences. The school district is leveraging this service when advertising school properties to the movie industry.

District staff found rental rates here were significantly lower than other Lower Mainland school districts, and raised them from $1,200 per day to $2,000 per day for interiors and $1,650 for exteriors. There are also fees of $1,100 per day for prep days, and $400 for parking.

The board approved the higher rents, and that 20 per cent of the net rental revenue for filming in school will be shared with host schools.



More rent

The board has put off the review of the effects of its dramatic increases in rental rates for gymnasiums and other facilities to community groups and sports teams.

Secretary treasurer Flavia Coughlan said the review is due, but will be done in January of 2016. Teacher job action at the end of the last school year and beginning of this year interrupted the leases of some user groups, so a true comparison can not be made.

The district is contacting all previous tenants who are no longer leasing school space, and offering it back to them. Some are coming back on board, noted Coughlan.

When rental rates increased from subsidized to cost-recovery rates, many users left, and some appealed to the board to have the rates lower. The West Coast Football Club, for example, saw its gym rental rates rise from $5 per hour to $33.75 per hour, and many teams moved outdoors for practices.