Ex-staffer clarifies new Belmont process

Former SD62 assistant superintendant offers leadup to Belmont decision

Re: Teen candidate full of youthful enthusiasm (Gazette, Oct. 10)

Your front-page feature story included a campaign photo provided by the candidate and contained this statement: “The former Belmont student, perhaps best known as the student activist who spearheaded a grassroots campaign to convince Sooke School District to replace the aging facility.”

This implies the district wasn’t doing enough about replacing Belmont and needed some prodding. Nothing could be further from the truth. The board and staff worked on this relentlessly for over five years, along with local mayors and councils, parents and other community representatives, including our local MLAs.

The project was initiated in the 2005 Annual Capital Plan that normally takes several months of studies to determine provincial rankings. We were told we had too many elementary spaces, therefore no new schools. A change in provincial policy allowed the district to present a unique business plan to government. The community was actively involved in numerous meetings pertaining to grade configurations and potential new schools.

There were several meetings between trustees and the minister, as well as their respective staffs. The plan included the sale of Belmont and the expansion of the Glen Lake property. With lands already owned at Royal Bay, and in conjunction with grade restructuring, the plan provided the financial basis for provincial approval.

This business plan was the pivotal point in the approval process. Long before the student rally, ministry funds were already being released for the Belmont replacement. The incumbent trustees must be credited for submitting the business plan and sticking to it in the face of some strong opposition. The success was far more complex than any one person or event. The Belmont success was due to the work of many, many people, aptly led by the incumbent trustees.

Ron Warder

Metchosin

Ret. asst. superintendent

Sooke School District