Despite the best efforts of Summerland parents and others from the community, Trout Creek Elementary School will close its doors on June 30.
The school is one of three in the Okanagan Skaha School District to be closed in an attempt to save money for the school district.
Since the possibility of school closures was first announced in fall, the community has worked to keep all four of its public schools open. The latest effort, earlier this spring, was the “Summerland Solution,” a plan to move the Montessori program into the elementary schools.
The closures are signs of two important facts. First, enrolment in Summerland and throughout the school district has been declining. Second, the existing school funding model forced trustees to make some deep cuts in order to present a balanced budget.
Of the 19 schools in the district, 16 were below capacity over the past year and figures from the school district showed no substantial increase in the immediate future.
There are some families with school-aged children moving into the area. However, their numbers were not enough to keep the schools open.
The province determines how much money each school district receives, and the school districts are not allowed to run deficit budgets.
Throughout British Columbia, school trustees have had to take some drastic measures in order to balance their budgets.
Any further funding challenges will prove even more difficult than the cuts we are experiencing this year.
Unless the provincial funding figures are examined, the fear of further deep cuts will remain.
If our public education system is to be a priority, it is important to provide enough money to ensure the needs of the students can be addressed.
Anything less is unacceptable.