By ANDREW STUCKEY
Most Osoyoos parents would keep their children in Osoyoos if a full-capacity independent school program were provided next September at a reasonable cost, a survey conducted by the Osoyoos Daily News suggests.
But that support dwindles to virtually nothing if the independent program can only provide a limited number of seats.
More than 120 Osoyoos residents — parents, students and others interested in secondary educational programming in the community — completed an Osoyoos Secondary Students Intentions survey over the long weekend. The survey was delivered on two platforms — on the Osoyoos Daily News website and via Facebook.
Those participating included fifty-seven parents and 18 students. An additional 42 Osoyoos residents with no children in either Osoyoos Secondary or in Grade 7 in Osoyoos Elementary also participated.
The overwhelming first choice among all groups for educational opportunity in September was an independent Osoyoos program that could accommodate all Osoyoos students.
More than 60 percent of parents said they would prefer to keep their children in Osoyoos in an independent school that provided opportunity to all Osoyoos students.
The desire to keep Osoyoos students at home was also high among Osoyoos residents who did not have a child or children in the secondary program. Fifty-seven percent listed a full-capacity Osoyoos independent program as their first choice.
The desire to stay in Osoyoos was lowest among existing Osoyoos Secondary students, who had opportunity to tour South Okanagan Secondary last month. Just 44 percent made a full-capacity Osoyoos independent school option their first choice.
The second most popular educational preference was for the student to attend South Okanagan Secondary.
Thirty-three percent of parents — or one-in-three — said they would prefer to send their child(ren) to Oliver for classes in September and 28 percent of students said they would prefer to go.
Most striking about the survey was the limited, almost non-existent support for an independent program made available with a limited capacity. Just two percent of parents and 11 percent of students favoured this option.
Even as an alternative, the limited-capacity Osoyoos option received little support, with just one-quarter of parents listing it as their second option.
The limited-capacity independent option was also dismissed by most other Osoyoos residents as well, with just four percent saying it would be their first choice.
The survey also asked participants to respond to questions about covering the costs of an independent program, engaging the Town of Osoyoos and the transportation of students to South Okanagan Secondary.
Among other survey findings:
- Sixty-five percent of parents who indicated they preferred the independent school option said they would pay at least $1,200 a year — or $100 a month — to keep their children in an independent Osoyoos program.
- About 75 percent of parents with secondary school-aged children say the Town of Osoyoos should provide some form of grant funding for an independent school program. However, 74 percent of those same parents said grant funding should not be provided to a limited-capacity program.
- About 70 percent of parents with children with secondary school-aged children said the Town should provide space in the Sonora Centre for an independent school program. Support was lower for a limited-capacity program, with 74 percent of those same parents saying space should not be provided unless all Osoyoos students could attend.
- Just over 40 percent of parents said their children would travel by bus if they attended South Okanagan Secondary School. Another 16 percent indicated travel by vehicle — either in a carpooling situation, by private vehicle because a parent already worked in Oliver and could travel with them or simply because a parent would drive the student to school. Fourteen percent of parents were not sure how their children would be attending school in Oliver; 12 percent said their children would not be attending South Okanagan Secondary School.
- Although the vast number of parents (90 percent) indicated they would be keeping elementary-aged school children in Osoyoos, one in 10 parents said it was likely or very likely younger children would travel to Oliver with older siblings to attend school.