As the local government election approaches, the Summerland Review is asking questions of the candidates for trustee for the Okanagan Skaha School Board.
This week’s question: The long term facilities plan will be decided in the term you are elected. If it is determined that the best way to use educational spaces is to close a school, are you in favour of doing that?
Our school district is unequivocally at a crossroads when it comes down to the student population and the school district budget. Looking at the numbers is only one facet of the situation. I believe that with consistent, engaged collaboration we can address our districts needs. I am in favour of serving our students with the best possible facilities and opportunities.
Possibly…it’s important that we be good stewards of taxpayer dollars.
My election promise in 2018 was to work very hard to avoid the potential closure of Trout Creek Elementary. In fact, I stated I would never vote in favour of closing that important community school.
I repeat that promise now, but I cannot guarantee that some schools will not close in School District 67.
First of all, my vote is only one of seven on the board and the majority rules. Secondly, many of our schools are well below capacity; for example, Naramata Elementary is under 50 per cent, Summerland Secondary School and Summerland Middle School are only two/thirds full. Our budget situation is such that we need more services for kids and fewer facilities that are empty and represent wasted space.
Students will get more programs, opportunities, sports, band and drama choices and increased counselling and special needs services in larger schools. No decisions have been made yet and the board continues to work on a new 10-year Long Range Facilities Plan.
Linda Van Alphen
I am fundamentally opposed to the notion of school closures specifically when the school is in a small community area. It is my belief that these, often rural schools, are essential to the vibrancy of their communities.
In making that statement, I also believe that my responsibility as a board of education trustee is to make decisions that provide all students the best educational opportunities and resources possible.
In School District 67, we have experienced chronic declining enrollment, aging buildings, increasing pressures on widely needed resources with little hope of turning the trend around.
All our trustees realize that it has become essential to make certain changes within our district which may include amendments to catchment areas, grade reconfigurations and development of community partnerships to facilitate the delivery of services in empty spaces to the broader community.
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