The Victoria-Swan Lake member of the B.C Legislature had the Osoyoos community’s back yesterday, a day after SD53 trustees voted to close its secondary school.
After Education Minister denied provincial responsibility for the school’s closing, saying local school boards make such decisions, NDP MLA Rob Fleming fired back, noting local trustees don’t have a lot of choices.
“The fact of the matter is that local decisions are only local if the school board has options, and this government has left this district with no option but to close schools, fire teachers and stick kids on buses to go to the next town,” he said.
Similkameen-Boundary MLA Linda Larson also downplayed the provincial government’s role in the decision.
“(A)s a local issue we must respect the independence of the school board to do what it believes is best for students and the district,” she said in a written statement.
“Ultimately the decision was made to give students the best education possible, and I have no hesitation in saying they will receive it at South Okanagan Secondary School, which is an outstanding institution with first-class teachers and administrators.”
Ms. Larson also said she believes Osoyoos will remain a great place to live despite the school’s closing.
“I am confident it will result in better educational outcomes for our students, and Osoyoos will remain one of the best places in Canada to live.”
What others had to say:
- Osoyoos Mayor Sue McKortoff: “After 35 years, losing K-12 is a definite blow. … We’ll also be quite proactive in dealing with the Minister of Education. … That being said, we will stay positive and look at ways we can deal with this. We won’t let this get us down.”
- Osoyoos Town Councillor Mike Campol (to trustees): “The parents showed courage. The teachers showed courage. The students showed courage. What we haven’t seen here is courage (from) you.”
- Trustee Rachel Allenbrand (Oliver): “I’m sitting here with my glass of wine now trying not to cry about it. It was a huge deal for the community.”
- Education Minister Mike Bernier: “We have a great relationship with the school districts around the province and recognize that those decisions are best made at a local level, the ones who understand their communities.”
- RDOS Area G Director Elef Christensen: “I can see the province wants to save money but they need to cut back in other places. When a school leaves, it’s like you’re a ghost town.”
- The Penticton Herald‘s James Miller: “What was witnessed Wednesday night was a poor man’s version of The Hunger Games. Area schools were called to the Capitol and OSS lost the lottery.”