An incumbent Summerland school trustee candidate says another candidate’s statements about a possible future closure of Trout Creek Elementary School are reckless.
Linda Van Alphen, a school trustee for 16 years, was on the school board when the closure of the Summerland elementary school was considered in 2016.
She said conditions today are different from the spring of 2016, when the closure was being considered.
“The school district is in an entirely different financial situation situation than it was in 2015,” she said. “The district had suffered for 10 years with a structural deficit of over $1.2 million every year and our next cuts had to be in teaching staff and resources. This is no longer the case.”
Van Alphen’s statements are in response to Summerland school trustee candidate Dave Stathers, who has raised the issue of a possible school closure during the election campaign.
At an all-candidates forum in Summerland, Stathers promised he would fight hard for Trout Creek School and would never vote in favour of its closure.
He is also proposing the formation of a new stakeholders community school committee, consisting of volunteer members from all groups involved in another possible school closure.
Stathers has been critical of Summerland’s two incumbent school trustees, Van Alphen and Julie Planiden.
“Democratically, they were supposed to specifically represent the concerns of Summerland citizens,” he said earlier.
But Van Alphen said the trustees had been working to keep the school open in 2016.
“From the moment on June 14, 2016 when the Rural Education Enhancement was announced, anxiety turned to action,” Van Alphen said. “The Trout Creek PAC Executive, myself and senior school board staff worked tirelessly over a 10-day period to submit a 108-page document to the Ministry of Education for approval. We received approval on the evening of the 29th of June.”
She added that the school board committed to lobbying the government to continue funding small community schools.
“We have done this with the Liberal government and we have submitted many letters and motions from the board and from our provincial organization to the NDP government to maintain a Rural Education Enhancement Fund in the new funding formula,” she said.
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