Enough studying already.
Education officials recently commissioned yet another report to probe options for the replacement of FH Collins.
The study is due in July.
It will assess programming at Whitehorse high schools.
It is going to cost $200,000.
That’s an awful lot of money.
And, already, it raises more questions than it will ever answer.
Like, for instance, why must the Yukon Education department hire an outside consultant to assess programming it delivers in its secondary schools?
This isn’t Ontario, folks. It’s not that complicated.
Whitehorse has five high schools.
And that’s if you count Ecole Emilie-Tremblay a high school. It has just 17 students, which, in our books, qualifies as nothing more than one very small classroom.
Shouldn’t the Education department, which has an operational budget of $108 million, know what programming it offers at its high schools?
In total, we’re talking 1,915 students. Almost 1,800 are enrolled in three local high schools.
Figuring out programming is not rocket science.
Assessing future high school enrollment isn’t tough either.
The figures are on the Yukon government’s website.
They’re in virtually every Education report.
And the government has its own statistics branch.
In fact, the Yukon has a beefy bureaucracy.
So why is it farming out $200,000 studies to consultants?
Heck, that’s enough to pay three to five full-time employees for a full year. The study is an eight-month gig.
Why so much?
And it comes five months after the government received the Hold Fast study.
That report cost $79,360.
“We’re working with a company from Outside that’s got a background in school facilities and school-facility design,” said Education Minister Patrick Rouble, explaining why he sole-sourced the report to the Victoria-based consultants back in 2005.
It was supposed to answer whether we need a new school in Copper Ridge. (The answer: No.)
The Hold Fast report was supposed to look at FH Collins and Porter Creek and figure out how they could better suit community needs.
It was supposed to assess whether FH Collins needed repairs or replacement.
It was supposed to assess what the territory needed in terms of high schools.
What it did, instead, is chronicle that the high schools were operating below capacity.
It predicted that high school enrollment in Whitehorse would continue to fall until 2016.
It concluded that FH Collins was a derelict four years past its engineer’s best-before date.
It reported that most Whitehorse residents want it replaced, not fixed.
It reported that replacement would cost an estimated $48 million.
And then the consultants recommended the government hire more consultants to assess the school’s role in the community, something that the original report was supposed to deliver.
We haven’t even touched on the $1.5-million Education Reform Project report, which still hasn’t been officially released, but which is the culmination of two years of study and community input into the needs of the education system.
It, too, has scads of information on where Yukon education should go.
The Yukon clearly doesn’t need another $200,000 report to assess secondary school programming.
What that represents is a very expensive waste of public money to buy cabinet some more time.
It’s a stalling tactic.
What the Yukon needs is for cabinet to make a decision.
Enrollment is falling, and that’s expected to continue through to 2016.
FH Collins is old and needs replacement — they can’t even find parts to fix its ancient wheelchair lifts.
Residents want a new high school built on the existing site.
The cost of such a project is pegged at $48 million.
Is the government willing to spend that money to replace the decrepit facility in the face of declining enrollment numbers?
Yes? Or no?
Now that another $200,000 has been squandered on further study, the government has proved it knows how to pay Outsiders for reports.
But it hasn’t demonstrated it knows how to teach.
Or how to make a simple decision.
Will the Yukon Party replace or renovate FH Collins?
Or will it do nothing?
It’s time for an answer. (RM).