ELECTION 2018: Summerland school trustee candidates consider community’s needs and school closures

Four trustee candidates discuss how to meet Summerland’s needs and how to address potential closures

Julie Planiden

for trustee

The school closure discussion was a very difficult one for all trustees and the community.

Continuing to advocate at the provincial level to maintain the Rural Education Enhancement Fund which currently keeps Trout Creek and West Bench Elementary School open is extremely important.

Trustees in SD67 have been doing this at the provincial level with significant success and will continue to do so.

Dave Stathers

for trustee

First of all, I applaud Ms. Van Alphen and Ms.Planiden for their dedication and commitment over the past four years.

Both of them worked hard and represented their school district very well.

But, I think they let us down on the school closure issue.

Both voted to close Trout Creek School, a facility ranked very high in the annual Fraser Institute rankings and a key connecting force in the Trout Creek surrounding community.

All three of my kids went there; it is an outstanding school with great staff and a real community spirit.

I remember very well the fish on the fence, the basketball and soccer games, the parent-student dances, and the Christmas plays!

We cannot and must not take this away from Summerland!

Thank goodness for the parents and MLA Dan Ashton who spoke up loud and clear and achieved extra money from the Rural Education Enhancement Fund (REEF). Our local school stayed open thanks mostly to them.

And now our incumbent trustees are seeking re-election.

What will they do the next time closures loom in Summerland?

Linda Van Alphen

for trustee

School closures were contemplated to a point where Trout Creek Elementary and West Bench Elementary would have closed on June 30, 2016 had it not been for the new Rural Education Enhancement Fund.

At that time, the decision was made by a solid majority and was based on our year after year cut-backs of over $1.2 million.

The trustees knew that our next cuts would have to be in resources and staffing and the impact on classrooms across the district would have been devastating.

These cutbacks were based solely on the funding protection formulae, administrative savings and enrollment decline.

The current reality is an entirely different picture and I would best help Summerland students and their families by explaining that a lot has changed since then.

The school district is no longer in funding protection which cut close to $750,000 per year, the mandated administrative savings cut-backs of a little over $250,000 per year are no longer part of the Ministry of Education plan and student enrollment has plateaued.

However, the trustees continue to lobby government at every opportunity through submissions to the Funding Formulae Review team, motions through our parent organization BCSTA and letters to the Minister of Education to maintain the Rural Education Enhancement Fund.

Summerland students and their families could assist in this lobbying effort by adding their voices to those of the board of education to keep this fund which is keeping small community schools open across the province.

This is something positive that we can do together.

Peter Waterman

for trustee

School closures were a real problem with the lack of funding for all resources for a healthy school system.

Passionate representation by parents, teachers and others in the system saved the Trout Creek school plus avoided a terrible dislocation and balance of students and resources in all Summerland schools.

In addition, this proposal put our whole community at risk for the needed growth of the population of families and young couples.

The community needs a balance of population of all ages for healthy diversity.

Understanding how critical this is has to be brought to the board table.

We need good cooperation between the municipality and school district, for a strong vibrant community.

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