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School Closures School District 67 Parents attempt last effort April 11/16
A small group representing a much larger group presented a proposal to save West Bench and Trout Creek Schools that would instead if correct would not only save the school but as well would give them over $4000.000 in surplus.
The school district trustees said they needed to review the well presented package put together before they could rescind the school closure. Next meeting is on May 7,2016
This is a letter to the editor in the Penticton Herald
Are you aware of the solution that parents from Summerland have innovated to replace the restructuring of all of our schools? Below is a summary of the proposal that will presented at this evening’s school board meeting.
A new preliminary proposal to reopen Trout Creek School as a School of Choice will be presented to the School Board on Monday, April 11. Please come out and show your support! Board Office 6:30 pm.
We are requesting that a Publicly Funded Montessori Program of Choice be added to the existing operations at Trout Creek School. We are discussing the Summerland Montessori Society as the facilitator of the programming. This would recapture our students lost to the independent system and immediately increase the enrollment and funding in Trout Creek School.
There are successful models of this in the 12 Districts in the Lower Mainland and several more throughout BC. At least 4 schools in BC previously slated for closure have been rejuvenated this way. Programs of Choice create access & equality. Schools offering Programs of Choice are sought out as destination education. In fact our Summerland model French Immersion Program of Choice is an excellent example.
Our schools are an integral part of the foundation of a vital, healthy community. In the interest of intersectoral collaboration, we are asking the public, parents, Summerland Council and administration to support this progressive & forward thinking initiative for our neighborhood schools to join together, and truly turn challenge into an exciting opportunity for our community.
If another last-ditch effort fails tonight to save West Bench Elementary, it could turn into a windfall for the Penticton Indian Band’s school.
Outma Sqilx’w Cultural School principal Phil Rathjen said his facility, which currently has the equivalent of 90 full-time students, is in line to get four new classrooms when it reaches 100 kids.
The new space would be created by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, the federal agency that funds Outma.
Rathjen said he had “a couple” of new registrations for the 2016-17 session in the run-up to the board of the Okanagan Skaha School District voting March 30 to close nearby West Bench Elementary, and going ahead with that decision could very well push Outma over the top.
“We’d be ambitious to say we’re going to get to 100 and we’re going to build, but we’d be hopeful for that,” said Rathjen.
“I think staff are certainly looking forward to the opportunity for expansion, but we certainly don’t want to do it at that cost” of West Bench closing.
Outma has a reciprocal agreement with School District 67 that allows students to transfer between facilities, regardless of their heritage.
That deal, combined with West Bench’s proximity to Outma and its relatively high number of aboriginal kids – estimated by a parents’ group at 40 per cent of the 90 learners there – bodes well for the PIB.
First, however, School District 67 trustees are expected to discuss tonight at their regular meeting a proposal from the West Bench to raise taxes in order to provide a special operating subsidy to help keep the community’s school open.
According to an analysis prepared by Michael Brydon, who represents West Bench on the board of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, a $150,000-a-year operating grant would cost the average homeowner there about $220 annually.
That’s a bargain compared to the estimated $6,000 loss in value an average property owner experienced the moment the decision was made to close the school, concluded Brydon, citing a U.S. study on the issue.
Besides his proposal, trustees are also expected tonight to hear from three parents from Trout Creek, home to another elementary school that’s slated for closure June 30.