Nobody can deny that our government needs to focus on the citizens that count. We cannot continue to spend money on education, health care and social services while the population using those services are barely paying into the tax base. Less than 10 per cent of children and teens attending school earn an income, while the injured, sick and elderly lying about in hospitals are certainly not contributing to the workforce. I do believe, however, that the closure of Rossland Secondary School would be a ghastly mistake. There are several cost-saving, even revenue-generating opportunities for the facility that have not yet been considered.
1. RSS could operate as a school from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m., and a Kootenay-wide homeless from 3 p.m. onwards (and on weekends). Shelters from Osooyos to Cranbrook could be closed, and all homeless individuals bussed into Rossland for the use of the single facility. Imagine the savings in the social services budget! The RSS gymnasium could easily sleep over one hundred transients, though a limit may have to be placed on the use of shower and toilet facilities. The transients would then be forced out of the building during school hours; superb motivation for them to look for work. There would also be the opportunities for them to coach after-school sports to earn volunteer hours, which look fantastic on a resume.
2. Charge families $5,000 for the privilege of sending their children to school. This way, only children in wealthier families would require educating, which would both cut down on the number of teachers needed and raise substantial funds for the district. Statistics have proven that children from families of low socio-economic status tend to struggle at academics anyway, so why waste precious tax dollars trying to educate them? And just think of consequent job creation; hundreds of babysitting positions would materialize almost instantly.
3. The proficient chemistry teachers at RSS could manufacture designer recreational drugs. Production of methamphetamine alone could raise tens of thousands of dollars for the district. The equipment and materials are already on the premises, and the popularity of the television series “Breaking Bad” has shown that the general public would not frown upon this venture so long as the funds went to a morally acceptable cause… such as improving public education.
4. Half of the grade 6/7 curriculum time could be spent facilitating “life skills” such as weaving and micro-manufacturing. Why continue to send jobs overseas, when the hands of our children are just as tiny and dexterous as those of Asian children? The 15 cents per hour normally paid to the children could go directly to the facilities maintenance fund. There would also be the added benefit of being able to shop locally at “made-in-China” prices.
I applaud this government’s uncompromising passion for balancing the budget. I do hope, however, that it doesn’t pass up on such golden opportunities to use the Rossland Secondary School facility to its full advantage.