The needs of the students come first.
This should be the guiding principle when making any decisions about education, but at times it seems to have been forgotten.
The most recent education debacle, about the future of Trout Creek Elementary School and other schools in the Okanagan Skaha School District and in other school districts in British Columbia, started out as an attempt by the school board to arrive at a balanced budget.
School boards are allocated a certain amount of money from the province and must present balanced budgets. Deficit budgets are not allowed.
The school board made the decision to close three schools, including Trout Creek Elementary School, in order to meet its financial obligations.
Then, a late announcement by the province resulted in a reversal of this decision, keeping the school open.
The entire process has been stressful for everyone affected, especially the students. This isn’t fair to them.
The discussion seems to have moved away from preserving schools to affixing blame on the various parties involved.
School trustees have said they were forced to make their earlier decision because of the financial constraints and demands of the Ministry of Education.
Premier Christy Clark has pointed a finger at the board. “School boards sometimes make decisions that meet their bottom line, but they don’t always serve their community,” she said.
And MLA Dan Ashton has said school boards must “drop the politics, and do what is best for the students.”
This is easier said than done.
If school boards are to “drop the politics,” they need to have adequate money available to meet the needs of their students.
Otherwise, a similar story will play out in the future, either in our school district or elsewhere in the province.
Our students deserve better.