New Westminster school board decided on a security plan for new schools, learning centres


Foundations of the new elementary school being built. “Students have always been told to report strangers on the school grounds to adults providing the outside supervision,” said school board community development officer Betina Ali.

The New Westminster school board finally decided on a security plan for the three new schools and their learning centres.

The city’s social planner John Stark said in an email that, “[Learning centres] would contribute to these schools being hubs for the neighbourhoods in which they are located,” and effectively use the school facilities during school and non-school hours.

In a final report on the public consultation process in 2010, people wanted “the schools to act as community learning centres and be focal points in the neighbourhood.”

École Qayqayt Elementary is the first one of three new schools in the city. The other two schools are a middle school and a replacement for New Westminster Secondary School. All three will have its own learning centre.

However, with two halfway houses nearby and community programs happening within the elementary school building, the public was concerned about safety with younger students.

School board addresses residents’ concerns about safety

The approved school policy states there will be two separate guidelines on access to students and access to the building itself (page 19).

Betina Ali, community development officer for the school board, said there will be four entrances in total at the elementary school.

One entrance is “for the daycare on the top floor adjacent to the parking lot that will go along Royal Avenue.” Another entrance will be for the school that comes from the parking lot.

A third entrance on Merrivale Street will be used by school and learning centre staff. People who are part of the learning centre will have to sign in at the office during school hours.

The final entrance opens up onto the courtyard from the learning centre. “This whole area can be closed off from the school,” Ali adds. “There is also a rolling style garage that opens onto this courtyard from the [learning centre’s] multipurpose room.”

For the other two schools, Ali said there will be “separate areas with sign-in procedures to ensure that student safety is not jeopardized.”

Service providers for the before and after schoolcare

Stark said parents supported child development programs, including group child care and before and after school care. Seniors wanted the programs being run at these learning centres to be intergenerational, mixing people of all ages.

The before and after school care provider at Qayqayt will be Westminster Children’s After School Society, the current service provider for New Westminster’s school population, said Ali. The child care centre at the new middle school will be operated by Lower Mainland Purpose Society.

“A [request] just went out for non-profit child care providers to apply to provide services at the designated child care space at Qayqayt,” she added. The same request process was sent out for the middle school location.

There is no confirmation of what specific programs will go into all the centres. Ali explained it is too early in the plan.