PENTICTON – Penticton MLA Dan Ashton announced today that the provincial government is providing the Okanagan-Skaha School District with $266,527 in funding and called for the funding to be used to save Trout Creek Elementary School and West Bench Elementary School.
Ashton also revealed that the Ministry of Education has confirmed that the Okanagan-Skaha School District stands to lose annual rural school grants as a result of the school closures.
Ashton also highlighted that the Okanagan-Skaha School District has $1.9 million in operating surplus in the bank.
“For the past number of months, many members of the communities and myself have worked tirelessly to save these schools from closing,” Ashton said. “I am very pleased to deliver more than $266,000 in funding to help the cause. It is now time for the school district to respond and reopen at least one of these schools, if not both.”
Ashton also called on the school district to ask for a special adviser to review the process that led to the decision to close Trout Creek Elementary School. Given the significant concerns raised by the community about this process, such a review is the best way for the school district to restore public trust in its decision-making process.
“The communities deserve answers to the many proposals and questions they have brought forward regarding Trout Creek Elementary School. A special adviser reviewing this process is the best way to get those answers and hopefully a compromise that would allow for school reopening,” Ashton said.
“I am also pleased to announce that the Ministry of Education has confirmed that should our school district agree to our request for a special adviser, all costs for the adviser will be paid by the ministry instead of our local school district. Therefore, if our school board firmly believes it properly followed the process required to close Trout Creek Elementary, there is absolutely no reason to reject the request to agree to a special adviser to be appointed by the ministry.”
Districts made real efforts to reduce spending on their administration costs – and those efforts have made it possible to help flow those resources into classrooms and services for students. The amount of money being left with districts is equal to the Year 2 of administrative savings districts were asked to find.
School districts, including SD 67, have been informed that they will not have to pay their share of $25 million worth of provincial charges this year, and instead can redirect that money into frontline services for students.