It’s not exactly the Aesop fable of the lion and the mouse, but in the aftermath of what appears to be a decision to close Good Shepherd Christian School, the Osoyoos community should be asking itself what it can do to help a troubled neighbour who was prepared to step in and help it during a recent time of trouble.
I’m talking, of course, of recent negotiations involving the Lutheran Church congregation and an adhoc, informally-supported committee looking to establish an independent school in the wake of the announced closing of Osoyoos Secondary.
As part of that conversation, Good Shepherd School was prepared to share its provincial education charter to jumpstart an independent program in the community.
Now, with Osoyoos Secondary safe for at least another year and probably two, concerns about the financial stability of the Good Shepherd program — not brought about locally but through an insolvent district church extension fund — that will see the school close this fall should be an issue the Osoyoos community addresses.
Good Shepherd, and by extension Grace Lutheran Church, was prepared this spring to extend a lifeline to the Osoyoos community; now, the Osoyoos community should do the decent thing and return the favour.
That doesn’t necessarily mean an inflow of cash. What it does mean is conversation, discussion, offers to provide resources that might assist the program in resolving its issues.
There are options.
Alberta’s Concordia University, another faith-based institution that received funding through the Lutheran Church, this year severed that tie. Like Concordia, Good Shepherd receives provincial funding and relies on student tuition. And just like Concordia, many of its students are not of the Lutheran faith.
Wouldn’t it be possible to arrange a similar transition here in Osoyoos? Isn’t it at least worth discussing?
If doing unto others isn’t sufficient motivation to help Grace Lutheran save its school, ponder a more practical consideration.
Good Shepherd has become a school of choice in Osoyoos for parents looking for an option to the public school system. Until the end of June, it was also a potential school of choice for parents looking for an alternative for secondary students.
Now, with Osoyoos Secondary safe, we can return to the status quo. Or we can do the smart thing and hedge our bets.
Provincial funding is in place to rescue Osoyoos Secondary now, but that might not be the case in two years time as the politics of underfunded schools settles again.
Wouldn’t it make sense to have an independent school charter in our backpocket if the day comes again that Osoyoos Secondary is on the chopping block?
We have that currently with the presence of Good Shepherd School. It will be gone if the school closes its doors.
Local realtor Alina Lovin has already asked parents of elementary-aged students to consider their reasons for enrolling — or not enrolling — their children in the Good Shepherd program.
But, frankly, that doesn’t go far enough. If you’re reading this and you have resources and talents to help the school, it’s time to step forward.
If enough of us do, we can still save the program — for its students, the local church congregation and our community as a whole.
The school-closing process we’ve endured over the last six months was one of our community battling the school district and provincial government amid the quiet indifference of our South Okanagan and Similkameen neighbours.
Let’s show we learned something from that experience. Let’s show we’re not going to turn our backs on a neighbour of our own facing a very similar frustration.
— Andrew Stuckey