Editor, The News:
Re: Collaboration on new school (The News, Jan. 29).
I must comment on what Mayor Nicole Read said in your article.
“We are proud to join with our colleagues on the board of education to work together,” in regards to a new school and community center site in Albion and north Maple Ridge.
I would respectfully like to ask where was the ‘we’ last April, when the school board trustees presented a budget that would eliminate all the school buses in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows?
I don’t recall hearing or reading any comments about the mayor or council coming to the support of the school bus riding students or families to collaborate on a solution.
Where was the ‘we’ when it was discovered that Trans-Link would not be adding any new routes or sending larger buses to help accommodate the children who currently rely on the school bus to get to and from school?
Where was the ‘we’ when we started putting up signs and encouraging people to speak up and trying to gather support to bring back a limited number of school buses so that those children and families who live in the most remote parts of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows and who have to travel 10 kilometers and in some cases more to school would have a way to get there?
The only response we received from council at that time was from Mayor Read saying council was not a part of the school board’s decision. That was a decision the school board felt it had to make in relation to budget cuts.
It is wonderful that, at last, we will be getting a new elementary school and possibly a community centre in the densely populated area of Albion. Unfortunately, the school will likely not be up and running for about four or five years. This means that those families in the Albion area, but not in the revised Albion catchment (few years ago) and those that will unknowingly be moving in to some of these new subdivision over the next few years, will have to drive their children to and back home from either Webster’s Corners or Whonnock elementary, many kilometres away, until then.
A new school in Albion will not change the distance to elementary school for families who live in the Whonnock area or north Pitt Meadows. Also, since there are no new high schools scheduled to be built in the near future, those students in the Garibaldi catchment, which covers a large area of east Maple Ridge, including Whonnock and parts of Thornhill and north Maple Ridge, will have to continue to travel great distances to high school. Many of these areas have very limited or no transit options. If you are familiar with the roads in some of these areas, you will realize walking is not a safe option.
We moved to Maple Ridge five years ago and selected the location after talking to the school district transportation department about the school buses. We would not have moved here had there not been one.
Public education is underfunded and school board trustees have had to make over $8 million dollars in cuts in the past several years. You only need to spend a few minutes in a classroom to see it for yourself.
Classrooms bursting at the seams with kids in all shapes and sizes and abilities trying to learn under one roof.
Unless more parents speak up, education funding will not change.
In the meantime, the parents of the 362 kids who use school buses to get to school would love to see mayor and council collaborate with whomever they need to help bring back a limited number of school buses.