Parents ponder solutions to keep Osoyoos schools open

osoyoos secondary school

Osoyoos parents hunkered down Monday evening to better understand a local school district plan to shutter one of their schools and come up with a way to keep that from happening.

About 75 parents attended one of two Parent Advisory Council (PAC) meetings in the community yesterday, with 50 gathering at Osoyoos Elementary School and 25 more sitting down at Osoyoos Secondary School.

“We had lots of solutions or ideas — I won’t necessarily say solutions — but we had lots of ideas presented,” said Amy Robinson, chair of the elementary school’s PAC.

Those ideas included encouraging the district to adopt a four-day school week and reviewing a network leader program implemented after the retirement of Asst. Superintendent Jim Insley as well as relocating U-Learn and other off-site programs to existing SD53 facilities.

Parents at the secondary school also wanted to better understand a new timetable instituted at the OSS and how that might effect district funding.

“At this point if were so short we think that all money should be going directly to our children and not to random things that aren’t coming directly back into the classroom,” said Robinson. “They say they have no money, but the money they do have should go to our kids.”

Osoyoos learned in mid-January it will bear the brunt of budget cutbacks when senior staff recommended at a regular board meeting January 13 that either the town’s secondary school or its elementary school be shuttered.

Trustees voted to accept the recommendations and move forward with public consultations around two scenarios:

  1. Close Osoyoos Secondary School (OSS) and transfer its grade-eight-to-12 students to South Okanagan Secondary (SOSS) in Oliver; or
  2. Close Osoyoos Elementary, re-invent OSS as a kindergarten-to-grade-nine school and move the grade 10-12 students to SOSS.

The two PACs are planning additional information sessions for Osoyoos residents.

“That’s not just for the high school (parents),” said Michelle Nehring, chair of the secondary school’s PAC. “Anybody should come.”

The SD53 board is preparing a budget presentation for February 9. That session will be held at Osoyoos Secondary School beginning at 7 p.m.

In the meantime, parents and other Osoyoos residents can visit the Save Osoyoos Secondary/Elementary Schools Facebook group, which now has more than 470 members and provides a forum for Osoyoos parents and other residents to gather information on the OSSD proposal to close either Osoyoos Elementary or Osoyoos Secondary School as part of a budget-balancing exercise.

The Public Group page also provides an opportunity for users to comment on the issue.

Osoyoos parents Lisa Fredericks and Allison Baskett have created a Change.org petition to be delivered to the SD53 board and the B.C. Minister of Education. Over 10 days, the Save Osoyoos Elementary and Secondary Schools petition has gathered more than 1,030 signatures.

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