The first regular reporting gig I had when I started at the Richmond News almost 10 years ago was covering the then Richmond School Board — since renamed the Board of Education…foretelling of school closures? Who knows.
While the meetings were sometimes long and tedious, I actually loved the job. With two kids attending Westwind elementary at the time, I had a vested interest in seeing how the show was run. And, as a wannabe teacher, it was inspiring to be around people passionate about education.
So, when Graeme Wood, our reporter who has been covering the school closure issue, was sick on a day when a big story was happening at a board meeting, I decided to don the old reporter’s visor and head out.
Okay, not quite true.
First, I tried to pester one of the other two reporters to go — no luck. Then, I muttered at length (and loud enough for the publisher to hear) about having to wear too many hats. Then, I donned the reporter’s visor and headed out for the evening meeting.
Truth be told, I was looking forward to it. Dishes needed doing, kids needed nagging, but I thought it would be fun to be back in the action — even if I was a little rusty. How rusty? We’re talking forgot-to-bring-a-pen rusty. No kidding.
I got there, had to stand at the door as it was a packed house, pulled out my notebook and realized I was sans that tool of the trade.
Never mind, this is the age of the smart phone. But unfortunately, I’ve only recently graduated from hunt-and-peck to two-thumb texting, so it was a slow and painful process. (If you read Wednesday’s story, you might have noticed rather a lot of paraphrasing.) Regardless, I think I got the gist.
For me, that gist was the fact Richmond, not known as a hotbed of political activism, certainly has a fired-up parent group unwilling to negotiate student safety and healthy school communities — nor should they be.
This isn’t to say all schools should stay open, but refusing to do seismic upgrades unless schools are at 95 per cent capacity is ludicrous. The provincial government appears to be back pedalling on that — and even that’s a problem. The whole education system has been jerked around too much already with on-again, off-again funding.
Of course, schools should run efficiently. And, yes, I’d rather see money spent on teachers and educational assistants than keeping the lights on in a half-empty school.
But, as trustee Donna Sargent said, these cuts are on the heels of more than a decade of cuts. To that end, a provincial election is in the offing. Parents have a voice, this is the time to use it. ...and I promise to keep a pen in my bag to note what’s said.