The effects of a school closure

This has been an emotional few months for residents of Trout Creek.

This has been an emotional few months for residents of Trout Creek.

In all the coverage of and reaction to the closing of Trout Creek Elementary, no one has mentioned the effect of school closures on the staff of the closed schools.

We all know what the politicians think, but lost in all that hyperbole is any concern for teachers and administrators that are now facing an uncertain future.

Their world was turned upside down on Wednesday night and I doubt if they got much sleep.

It has been a hard path and now that the closures have been announced, we are all told to accept them and move on.

Business decisions are made every day, in every industry, small and large. We hear about them, read about them and wax poetic about them every day.

What we don’t hear about often enough is what the human cost is behind every decision.

It seems our society is slowly being reduced to a line item on a spreadsheet.

Hit delete and move on.

It is not that easy.

Trout Creek Elementary is more than just a line item to the people who go to work there every day.

It is more than just a line item to the students who attend classes there.

This school has a rich past and until Wednesday night, a bright future.

Now it will be reduced to yet another empty, boarded up building in Summerland.

Is there a business case for closing the school? Sure, I’ll concede that.

The question I have is what is the cost to our society when we close a community’s school?

Are we richer for it or poorer?

Summerland is not new to losing community institutions.

I have heard from several long time residents about the painful loss of the Summerland hospital. Now for most medical appointments, Summerlanders travel to Penticton.

Are we richer for this or poorer?

Over the past year that I have been here, I have seen several businesses close or move to another municipality.

Are we richer for this or poorer?

I wish I had the perfect solution but I don’t.

For those affected by the closing of Trout Creek Elementary, you have my sympathy. It is unlikely that Summerland will ever regain another school.

If enrollment continues to decline, more schools could be lost.

The fact is, Summerland does not exactly have the welcome mat out for families.

Housing is expensive, well paying jobs are scarce and most year round family amenities aren’t readily available.

Instead of shrugging and expressing canned disappointment, I hope our municipal leadership will stand up and propose a meaningful action plan and strategy to turn this around.

There has to be collective solution and the political will to accomplish it.

However, given the political climate during the last local election, I won’t hold my breath.

Summerland has a lot going for it.

Let’s do our best to make sure we rise above just being a line item on a spreadsheet.

Let’s make it impossible to just hit delete and move on.

Rob Murphy is the sales manager at the Summerland Review.