Funding approved for West Bench, Trout Creek

Sure democracy works when there is an election looming on the horizon or a photo opportunity that will try to show and tell us how well the government is doing. The Rural Education Enhancement Fund isn’t a panacea for public education in rural communities, its a temporary bandaid to the real problem which is a lack of stable, predictable, and adequate funds from the BC Liberals Ministry of Education. Click here to read the full article or an excerpt below.

 

“We all know West Bench is a community and Trout Creek is a community and to maintain these schools is incredibly important,” Ashton said. “This has been my No. 1 priority. My phone has been ringing off the hook.

“This was an exercise in democracy. When people speak, people like myself listen and governments listen and that’s something these kids need to realize is that (democracy) does work.”

On June 15, Premier Christy Clark announced the creation of this ongoing fund to keep schools in rural areas of the province in operation. This funding comes as a part of the Rural Education Strategy that will examine rural school district budgets in communities outside the Lower Mainland, Greater Victoria and Kelowna. The strategy aims to find solutions for the unique challenges facing rural school districts, while recognizing the economic impact of rural schools in small communities.

Trout Creek and West Bench will both receive about $369,000 in funding for the next two years while Osoyoos Secondary School (which is part of Okanagan Similkameen School District 53) will receive $390,000 plus an additional $100,000 to cover the cost of maintenance that has not been completed given the fact the school was previously scheduled to close.

At the afternoon meeting, SD67 trustee Bill Bidlake praised parents for their input but warned, “It’s wonderful news and it buys us another two years. We don’t know what the population will look like at that time. Does this mean we’re never going down the school closure road again? I don’t think so, maybe it will be the same combination of schools, maybe another.”

Meanwhile in Osoyoos, trustees there voted in favour of rescinding the closure of OSS.

Although grateful to the government, Save Our Schools chair Brenda Dorosz was critical of Boundary-Similkameen MLA Linda Larson.

“The Liberals want the public to see them as heroes,” Dorosz said. “I did this for my community, perhaps they did it for votes, but I guarantee they did not put in the hours of research, loss of income and time away from family that our team did.”

The other schools in B.C. which will now stay open thanks to the Rural Education Enhancement Funding program are Kersley Elementary, Parkland Elementary (Ten Mile Lake), Oyster River Elementary and Discovery Passage Elementary (Duncan Bay).

A number of districts applied for cash schools slated to close in 2017-18.

The Ministry has indicated that these schools would be supported by the Rural Education Enhancement Fund to remain open in that that school year, with funding amounts to be determined. Those schools include: Winlaw Elementary (Slocan City), Jewett Elementary (Meadow Creek), Texada Elementary (Texada Island), and Port Renfrew Elementary.

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