Considering closures

One of the hardest realities every elected official must face is the fact that some unpleasant decisions must be made.

One of the hardest realities every elected official must face is the fact that some unpleasant decisions must be made.

This is the reality for the trustees at the Okanagan Skaha School Board as they consider school closures in an attempt to trim their budget.

A proposal to close Giant’s Head School and restructure Summerland Middle School and Summerland Secondary School received significant opposition from the community when it was presented in fall.

The latest suggestion, presented in early January, calls for the closure of Trout Creek School and the reconfiguration of the remaining three Summerland schools.

The plan was proposed as a way to address the concerns which had been raised with the earlier Summerland option.

However, no plan is perfect, especially when considering school closures.

Those who have children attending Giant’s Head School have talked about the positive experiences for their children. Some families have chosen to live near the school for the sake of their children.

The same is true at Trout Creek School. Families in that area have spoken about the benefits from having the school in their neighbourhood.

The issue is one of declining enrolment in the entire school district, including Summerland. School funding is based on enrolment numbers.

School boards may not operate with deficit budgets. Boards violating this directive have been dismissed and a trustee has been appointed to make the necessary budget cuts.

As a town, we don’t want to lose what we have. We don’t want to have less than we had in past years.

We don’t want our children to lose educational opportunities that have been available in the past.

But when any school is closed, the reality is that something will be lost.

There are no easy solutions here.