Osoyoos Council to take school fight to Victoria

By ROY WOOD

Osoyoos council will seek a meeting with Education Minister Mike Bernier in its continuing efforts to keep both of the town’s schools open in the face of threats of closure by the school district.

MLA Linda Larson said she would be happy to help set up a meeting, but she held out little hope that the minister would countermand any decision made by the school board.

At an overflow meeting at the Osoyoos Secondary gymnasium last Tuesday, school board officials detailed the rationale for its recommendation to the board that either the high school be shuttered and all students transferred to Oliver or the elementary be closed and the high school converted to a kindergarten to grade-9 school, with the grades-10-12 students going to Oliver.

In its first meeting since Tuesday’s public information forum, Osoyoos council plotted strategy Monday in a closed-door committee session.

Chief administrative officer Barry Romanko was directed to write a letter for the mayor’s signature that will express the deep concerns council has over the possible closure of a school.

(The letter will be shared on osoyoosdailynews.com when it’s written later this week.)

Council considered trying for a meeting with the minister together with the school board, but opted to go alone. It is not clear which members of council will attend.

In an interview Monday from Victoria, Larson, member for Boundary-Similkameen, said that until the school board has made a final decision, “I’m not sure there is a role for the provincial government to play.”

Larson pointed out that members of the Osoyoos community made several suggestions at Tuesday’s meeting and she hopes the school board will consider them carefully. She pointed to the four-day school week option that “operates quite successfully” in Grand Forks, another school district in her riding.

Whatever the school board decides, she said, “They are an elected body. … I’m (not aware) that the province has stepped in and overturned anything an elected body has done.”

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