By ANDREW STUCKEY
MLA Linda Larson has invited Town of Osoyoos Council to participate this morning in an “education funding” announcement that is expected to inject additional cash into the Okanagan Similkameen School District budget.
But while speculation is rampant the funding will mean a reprieve for Osoyoos Secondary School, there’s no indication the funding announcement is linked to the school remaining open..
According to CBC News, Liberal MLAs across the province will be announcing this morning that an “education thank you” will be provided to school boards that have participated in administrative funding cuts over the last several years.
More than $20 million in funding is expected to flow, with the largest portion being shared with the Surrey School District.
There is no indication how much additional funding will be shared with the Okanagan Similkameen district. A similar announcement is scheduled for Penticton and School District 67.
The funding is reportedly to be spent at each individual school district’s pleasure — with no restrictions — either to keep open a school earmarked for closing, to hire new teachers or to provide direct benefit to students in other ways.
But, with a SD53 decision to already close the school in the books, it’s not clear what steps would have to be taken to reopen the school.
Education Minister Mike Bernier has made it clear a school closing decision is the sole responsibility of the local school board.
In a May 19 letter to Council, Mr. Bernier said he does not “have the ability to overturn a board’s decision to close a school.”
That suggests a board meeting would need to be held and a motion made to rescind the school closing bylaw.
That motion, of course, would need to be adopted by Board members.
It’s also interesting to note the announcement will be made in Osoyoos, with Town of Osoyoos Council in attendance, and not at the SD53 office in Oliver. The funding announcement in Penticton will be made outside the SD67 district office.
SD53 board chair Marieze Tarr told The Daily News this morning the Okanagan Similkameen School District did not receive an invitation to the funding announcement.
She added she was not even aware an announcement was to be made.
The Town currently is engaged in a lawsuit with SD53. lawyers for the district were to reply to the Town’s petition to overturn the school closing early last week. However, as of this morning, no reply has been filed.
The announcement is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. at the Town of Osoyoos administration building.