Community

NOL working to make K-12 a possibility at Rossland

Contributed by Aerin Guy, co-ordinator for the Neighbourhood of Learning Committee.

On Monday, Feb. 25 the trustees of SD20 will meet at Trail Middle School for the third and final reading of the school closures bylaw. The only bylaw left remaining to pass is K-9 at RSS. This option passed unanimously at the Feb. 12 reading at RSS.

If it passes the final reading, then the board will proceed with their facilities planning process. If for some reason it doesn’t, then the status quo (K-5 at MacLean and 6-12 at RSS) will remain for the time being.

A public meeting will be hosted by Neighbourhood of Learning on Thursday, Feb. 28. Rossland residents are encouraged to come to the RSS gymnasium at 7 p.m. for an informative presentation about the options that are open to the community.

The Neighbourhood of Learning Committee is working hard on researching the logistics for a number of scenarios, which include a municipal school district, a redrawing of school district boundary lines, independent school options, and legal options. Each possibility requires significant groundwork and co-operation with the Ministry of Education, and the timelines are challenging.

We are also working with the City of Rossland to form a partnership with the school district so RSS could be a K-12 school this fall. This would probably entail some tax implications for Rosslanders, which will be laid out in the days to come.

The public meeting will also be an opportunity for interested residents to sign up for working groups to further explore the alternatives that may be available to us.

We will have sign-up sheets available at the meeting, and will also distribute a survey designed to gauge community support for the alternatives that remain.

Following the meeting, the newly established working groups will have the opportunity to meet in person and online, to plan a course of action for research and mobilization.

We encourage Rosslanders to help bring our plight to the attention of the Ministry of Education. There were 186 school closures in B.C. from 2001 to 2011. While school districts around the province are strapped for cash, Tuesday’s budget from the B.C. Liberals government can only result in further cuts and increased cost pressures for school boards, with the only money earmarked to schools being $1 million for the school fruit, vegetable and milk nutrition initiative. Cuts and cost pressures, while making boards more “efficient,” put community sustainability in jeopardy and do not support the learning opportunities that our students need.

Whether putting pressure on the government to explore a redistribution of funds that indicate education is a priority for B.C., or creating more streamlined means for communities to establish charter or independent systems that revolve around local needs is the answer, partnerships with the existing and future governments are crucial to move forward. Contact the Minister of Education, the Honourable Don MacRae at educ.minister@gov.bc.ca.

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