I haven’t paid a lot of attention to the School District 20 debate over the Planning for the Future document. I read through the recommendations when it first came out (I think in 2008 for Part 1), but aside from the tax requisition that is obviously part of the issue, we homeschool our kids, so I have a fairly unbiased position on the issues of closing schools down or changing the use of buildings.
The preferred recommendations from staff all saw Trail as the only community not impacted with the loss of a school facility. (The school district basically covers the area between Castlegar and Trail, through Warfield to Rossland). So when the board voted against adopting any of the recommendations, and instead passed this motion, “That the Board consults with its communities to develop educational priorities for our students in order to incorporate this information into our Planning for the Future process and that the Board postpone the currently scheduled public meetings.”
This motion passed 5 to 3, and now, it seems that the three board members who voted no, feel that halting the process somehow deserves the attention of the province and have written a letter asking for intervention. The Castlegar Source has a copy of the whole letter, which finishes…
We three trustees – 1/3 of our board – are requesting assistance from your ministry for:
- Ministry intervention on Planning for the Future of S.D.20.
- Dissolve present board of Trustees
- Removal of Board Chair
This letter is written in the best interests of all students of S.D.20
In some of the comments, there is an inference that the delay is merely an attempt for five trustees to get their way through “might”, rather than making the”right” decision. My comment on the site is copied below.
This isn’t a political party, it is a board made up of trustees from various communities that, (I think it is safe to assume, but correct me if I am wrong) prior to this issue had no affiliation. You say “outvoted by might”, others would say “regional democracy”.
The system may not be perfect, but running to the province for intervention shows fracture rather than the strength that we need to ensure that the region continues to receive its share of provincial funding and services.
I can’t wait to see what the Province’s response will be… Hang on, it will probably be the same as what the City of Trail received regarding the East End Sewer Service – essentially, that the Province has no desire to step in, and that communities should find a way to work within the existing legislative and governance structure.
I’ve heard it said that the best negotiations are those where everyone feels that they have lost something. I’d guess that this process will only end when that state is achieved.
I’d rather that no one loses anything, but it seems pretty unlikely in this situation, so, as with many other issues we face as communities, we need to compromise as communities. Maybe the “right” solution on paper, is not the right one from the community standpoint – losing a school is bigger than just counting heads or seats or however they do it, the school provides many ancillary benefits to a community, whether it is kids spending money in the shops of the community, or parents picking their kids up and doing the groceries. Or perhaps it is as simple as the sense of ownership and place that students feel when they are part of a community. It stands to reason that most kids going to school in their own community would feel more ownership over the community and be more inclined to value it.
As with many of the costs we will face in the coming years, the cost of education is not likely to go down, and we will be forced to be smarter in how we spend the scarce resources that are thrown our way. It isn’t wrong for these communities to be concerned about the future of their communities and the students and schools they represent. What is wrong is attempting to pull the plug on any meaningful dialogue because those asked to sacrifice have decided to make some noise about it, and it appears that you might not get your way.
Kyra Hoggan, editor of the Castlegar Source sums it up nicely…
If I were a ministry rep, I would think the whole region is Deliverance revisited, and be unwilling to risk the political ramifications of interacting with any of us.
We’re sending a message – that engaging with us at all, in any way, at any time, and for any reason, is sheer folly … possibly even political suicide.
This makes ‘crying wolf’ seem utterly benign.
Rarely have we seen, in my opinion, such a gross and irresponsible violation of the public trust.