B.C. town wants to create its own school district

Another town getting creative to save their school. What will it take for the BC Liberals to get the message. Here are other attempts from Rossland and Osoyoos to save their schools. Click here to read the full article or an excerpt below.

 

Parents and students protest outside the School District 67 office on March 29, 2016.

 

A B.C. town that came close to losing its elementary school wants to create its own school district and merge operations with the municipality in a bid to reduce costs and preserve the school’s future.

Summerland’s Trout Creek Elementary School had been slated to closeat the end of the last school year but was saved at the last minute when the provincial government announced the Rural Education Enhancement Fund.

It was a traumatic roller coaster ride of events, according to Summerland Mayor, Peter Waterman.

“When we looked at the potential of losing Trout Creek school, that would have been devastating to our community,” he said to Daybreak Southguest host, Alya Ramadan.

Now, Waterman is proposing a pilot project where Summerland creates its own school district.

Summerland is currently part of the Okanagan-Skaha School District, with offices located in Pentiction.

Administrative services

After the creation of a new Summerland-only school district, the municipality would then take on responsibility for its administrative services.

“As an example we have a (Chief Administrative Officer). Most CAO’s in communities of our size are making between $130,000 and $160,000 a year. There’s your superintendent position,” said Waterman.

A Chief Financial Officer working for a municipality makes about $100,000 a year and could provide financial services to the school district, he added.

“I think in today’s situation where we’ve got spiralling costs and the only way to meet things is to make cuts, and we don’t propose to make cuts that would affect children,” said Waterman. “This is to try and reduce costs at the top.”

The savings would make it easier to keep schools like Trout Creek Elementary open, said.

Waterman plans to take up his proposal with Education Minister Mike Bernier at the upcoming Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Victoria.

Similar plans proposed before

Former head of the B.C. School Trustees Association, Connie Denesiuk, said similar proposals have been discussed in other municipalities in the past but have never gone anywhere.

“At the end of the day people realized that municipalities have a lot of responsibilities on their plate and would students be top of mind always?” she said. “Maybe not. And they should be.”

 

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