Surplus could not keep Summerland school open

Funding in the Okanagan Skaha School District’s accounts could not have been used to keep three schools from closing.

Okanagan Skaha School District

Okanagan Skaha School District

Funding in the Okanagan Skaha School District’s accounts could not have been used to keep three schools from closing, board chair Linda Van Alphen said.

Earlier this year, the school board made the decision to close Trout Creek Elementary School in Summerland, West Bench Elementary School and McNicoll Park Middle School in Penticton.

The three schools are scheduled to close on June 30.

The three closures have an estimated cost savings of $1,187,606 for the school district, including $423,882 from the closure of Trout Creek Elementary School.

The school closures, especially the decision to close Trout Creek, resulted in considerable outrage from the community.

Some, including Dan Ashton, MLA for the riding of Penticton, have said the school board has an operational surplus of $1.9 million, more than enough to keep the three schools open.

But Van Alphen said the money in the fund has conditions attached.

“These are restricted funds,” she said.

Some of the money has been allocated for specific programs or Aboriginal education components and may not be used for any other purposes.

At the next school board meeting later this month, the board will discuss how to use the redirected funds. At this meeting, the 2016-2017 budget bylaw will be considered. The board meeting will be held June 13 at 6:30 p.m. at the school board office, 425 Jermyn Ave., Penticton.