‘I couldn’t not say anything’: Last-ditch efforts to save Okanagan-Skaha schools

News

SUMMERLAND — In about 48 hours, people in Summerland and Penticton will learn which schools — if any — will be closed.Tracy St. Claire, a former Okanagan-Skaha School Board Trustee, has remained mum on the subject, but says she sees “holes in the process,” compelling her to speak up at the eleventh hour. Story continues below

“It was worrisome when Trout Creek Elementary was added at the last minute, and it was doubly worrisome when some parents found that Trout Creek was getting a $60,000 grant that was never revealed by the board,” says St. Claire.Trout Creek Elementary was put on the chopping block suddenly in January after the district’s plan to save money was unveiled months earlier.

READ MORE:
School district presents new option for Summerland area reconfigurationConsequently, the school board delayed its final decision. The board chair says the issue will not be adjourned again.“Under our contract with our teachers and our CUPE staff, we have to be able to say to them by the end of March: This is what we’re going to do, this is where you’re going to work, this is what you’re going to do. So, we don’t have that kind of luxury,” says Linda Van Alphen. St. Claire believes if the goal is to save money, then a decision should be reserved for budget talks.“I think having school closures decided in isolation of the budget, I don’t know how you’d even know what that shortfall is because you haven’t gone through the process of closely scrutinizing the revenues and expenditures.”Van Alphen says the school board already went through this process last April.Summerland council is also hoping the school board will delay making its final decision.Mayor Peter Waterman says the closures would inflict economic and social damage on his community.“It is incomprehensible that no other options besides school closures have been considered for public consultation.” READ MORE: Summerland Council comes out swinging at possible school closuresVan Alphen says the school board would be willing to speak with Summerland council, but is denying the request to delay its decision.The school board will announce its decision Wednesday, March 9 at the IMC Building, which is located behind the school district office.