"Notes for Presentation to ESD Trustees"
Presentation of Gonzaga School Council Public Hearing before ESB Trustees - January 11, 2011 Introduction Good evening Trustees of the Eastern School Board. My name is Chris Quigley and I am a community member and Chair of the Gonzaga School Council. With me this evening to present to you is Ms. Susan Collingwood, Student Council President at Gonzaga. I’d also like to acknowledge the presence of parents, teachers and students of Gonzaga who are in attendance this evening. Susan and I are here to speak to you on behalf of Gonzaga, a school community whose mission is to provide a caring and supportive environment that enables all students to maximize their potential and develop as lifelong learners. Gonzaga is dedicated to the pursuit of excellence, a strong work ethic, mutual respect and community responsibility so that all students are able to achieve their personal goals. We appreciate the opportunity to provide feedback on the report prepared by BAE Newplan Group entitled School Facility Requirements of the Greater St. John’s Area. In providing our reaction to this report, and to the school planning process in general, we want to emphasize two key points: First, Board planning for high schools in the St. John’s area needs to be comprehensive in its approach. If two new high schools are to be built, then planning efforts and resources must also be allocated to schools like Gonzaga to ensure fairness and equity to their students. Second, Gonzaga requests that a specific upgrading and modernization plan be prepared by the ESD in consultation with the school community. This plan, which should include timelines and resource allocations, must address not only critical maintenance issues, but equally technological, aesthetic and functionality enhancements which are required to keep a level playing field with any new schools. Response to BAE Newplan report With regard to the analysis presented in the consultant’s report, we recognize the challenges presented by the situation that you as Trustees face. The uneven patterns of enrollment growth and decline in different parts of the north east Avalon, combined with aging school infrastructure, clearly present real hurdles to effective planning. We are pleased the consultant recognized that Gonzaga high school has been relatively well maintained. We are concerned, however, that the consultant’s analysis of the school leaves the impression that little if any work is needed in order for Gonzaga to continue to function effectively. 1 With respect, we submit that the consultant’s analysis of Gonzaga paints a misleadingly rosy picture of the school’s state of repair. Critical maintenance and upgrading requirements In particular, the report states that: “Walls, floors and ceiling are all in good [to] excellent condition, with very few noteworthy exceptions”. With regard to the electrical, mechanical and life safety systems, the report states that these systems “appear to be in good operating condition and well maintained”. Attached to our submission you will find several documents which make clear this rosy assessment falls short of the reality of the school’s vital maintenance needs. In particular, there is a pressing need for work to improve air quality and circulation, to upgrade the electrical and heating systems and to repair water damage in ceilings, among other issues. Gonzaga has been in operation since 1962 - nearly fifty years. If the school is to continue to be a dynamic educational home for students, these critical maintenance and upgrading issues must be properly addressed. Enhancement and modernization Beyond crucial physical plant upgrades and repairs, of equal importance to Gonzaga’s future is a program of enhancement and modernization to ensure students of the school are on an equal playing field with those of any new high schools. In this regard, the Gonzaga school community has taken the initiative in envisaging the kind of enhancements required, as you will see from the report attached to our submission which was the result of a creative design exercise, called a “charette”, lead by architectural firm Ron Fougere Associates Ltd. I now turn things over to Student Council President Susan Collingwood, who will speak about the student perspective on the enhancements needed at Gonzaga. Conclusion In summary, Gonzaga is simply looking for fair and equitable treatment as important changes are made to the school system in the north east Avalon over the coming years. Certainly, we do not expect to be punished by a lack of planning attention or resources because our nearly 50 year old building has been well cared for. In order to continue to deliver on our mission, the critical need for upgrades and enhancements must be met. 2 Therefore, our request this evening is that you direct the development of an upgrading and modernization plan for Gonzaga through a collaborative process between ESD and the Gonzaga School community. Thank you for the opportunity to present this evening. We welcome any questions you may have. 3