Education Minister Mike Bernier met with students

Education Minister Mike Bernier met with students

Education minister stops in Trail

Education Minister Mike Bernier met with students, staff and trustees during his stopover in Trail on Wednesday.


“This is the fun part of my job,” chuckled Education Minister Mike Bernier as he toured through a bustling Glenmerry grade school on Wednesday.

“Our province is so large and every area is unique in their own way,” he said . “So it’s good for me to get out and really see what’s happening in this area, because one of the things I talk about is that it’s hard to make decisions in Victoria that affect everyone around the province,” Bernier added. “Without actually getting around the province and seeing how the decisions we make affect people.”

Bernier made two stops in Trail during a whirlwind tour of school districts across the province this week.

First he dropped into Glenmerry Elementary classrooms and said hello to kindergartners and a Grade 4/5 science class, before heading outside to an adjacent portable to listen in on a math class.

After lunch, Bernier was slated for a grounding session with Kootenay Columbia Learning Centre students before heading into a meeting with School District 20 trustees and staff.

Though his schedule through SD20 was only hours, Bernier took note that what he did see in Trail is part of a trend that’s happening in many B.C. school districts.

“What’s really great to see is that we are starting to see enrollment growth in a lot of different parts of the province,” Bernier told the Trail Times. “Which is one of the challenges within the education system.”

While some places are seeing growth, others are continuing to see a decline in student bodies, he continued.

“When you look at the opportunities in Trail, it’s a beautiful place and people want to be here, and that’s one of the reasons I want to sit down and talk with the school district,” Bernier explained. “They are going to be talking to me about some of the different pressures they are facing because of growth.”

He acknowledged the tough decisions SD20 trustees have been forced to make over the past six years with ever growing deficits, including the $670,000 shortfall they face this year.

“They have also done a lot of work in past years where they had to close schools when enrollment was declining,” Bernier said. “But that has really made them focus. When you look at a school like this today, where we are at capacity, it really allows for programs and opportunities for students that sometimes can’t be offered when you have a school that’s half full.”

When the student body grows and schools like Glenmerry run at full capacity, Bernier says educational programs can actually be enhanced.

“(Such as) a science lab that you might not be able to have in smaller schools,” he said. “From an operational and from a programming standpoint when a school is full, most studies show you get better opportunities for students.”

With such a large deficit this year, SD20 is forced to axe something, and that’s most likely going to be the free bus service.

Trustees are proposing a fee for students to ride the bus to balance the budget.

And Bernier says those decisions are best left to the local school board, not the province.

“When you look at busing, there is no standard,” he said. “Some districts offer it, some don’t, some privatize or charge for the service it’s different in every school district based on decisions made at the board level, where they feel it’s the best opportunity to spend money to help people in the area,” Bernier added. “That’s why I’ve always said it’s better those decisions are made locally than in Victoria because you can’t make a decision that’s going to be great for everybody, you need to have that local autonomy.”

The father of five is from Dawson Creek, and says he’s knows first hand the challenges facing rural students and their families.

“It’s the decision that people make some time as well, and it’s one of the ones I always encourage people to talk with the school district about, because the school district has flexibility sometimes,” he said. “And I am always meeting with the districts and looking for opportunities to be able to assist them as well.”


Just Posted

The pilot of this single-engine propeller plane was unhurt after crash-landing in a Como Road orchard Friday, June 18. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Plane crash lands into Grand Forks orchard, pilot injured

RCMP have secured the crash site, pending investigation by Transport Canada

Author John Vaillant joins Lisa Moore and Fred Wah for Elephant Mountain Literary Festival’s Alumni Reading on Friday, July 9. All three authors were featured at the inaugural festival in 2012. Photo: Submitted
FESTIVAL TALES: When 2012 meets 2021

The Elephant Mountain Literary Festival will include authors from the event’s inaugural year

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

J. L. Crowe Secondary will host the convocation for 2021 Graduates on Saturday starting at 9 a.m. Photo: Jim Bailey
Convocation goes Saturday with Kootenay Columbia grads in learning groups, no parents

Parents can live-stream the ceremony of their 2021 graduates online

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

John Furlong told the Vancouver Board of Trade on Feb. 20, 2020 that he thinks the city could and should bid for the 2030 Winter Games. (CP photo)
PODCAST: John Furlong lays out a ‘provincial’ plan to host the 2030 Winter Olympics

Podcast: Chat includes potential role for Vancouver Island communities

A tenant walks in front of her home on Boundary Road on Friday, June 18, 2021 after it was destroyed by fire the night before in Chilliwack. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Family homeless after fire rips through Chilliwack house

Turtle rescued, no one seriously hurt following Boundary Road fire in Chilliwack

BC Ferries’ newest Island Class vessel is experiencing an issue with one of its thrusters off the Algerian coast. Photo courtesy
BC Ferries newest vessel having mechanical issues in Mediterranean

Island 4 will be repaired in Spain before crossing Atlantic

Wild rabbits are all over Chilliwack, but people often think they’re someone’s lost pet and try to ‘save’ them. But the owner of Chilliwack’s Reptile Room says good intentions can have bad consequences for wild animals. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Owner of Chilliwack’s Reptile Room asks people to leave wild animals in the wild

Amber Quiring says people who think they’re helping are actually doing more harm than good

Thousands of protesters make their way through the downtown core during a Black Lives Matter protest in Ottawa, Friday June 5, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
MPs’ study of systemic racism in policing concludes RCMP needs new model

Chair of the House public safety committee says it’s time for a reckoning on ‘quasi-military’ structure

A case filled with packages of boneless chicken breasts is shown in a grocery store Sunday, May 10, 2020, in southeast Denver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-David Zalubowski
One million chickens euthanized during labour dispute at Quebec slaughterhouse

Premier says waste amounts to 13 per cent of the province’s chicken production thrown in the garbage

Premier of Manitoba Brian Pallister speaks at a news conference at the Manitoba Legislative Building in Winnipeg on Wednesday, April 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Lipnowski
Provincial leaders want more federal money for health care, plan to meet in fall

Premiers ask Ottawa to increase its share of overall health spending to 35 per cent from 22 per cent

A section of the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies is seen west of Cochrane, Alta., Thursday, June 17, 2021. A joint federal-provincial review has denied an application for an open-pit coal mine in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, saying its impacts on the environment and Indigenous rights aren’t worth the economic benefits it would bring. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Panel says Grassy Mountain coal mine in Alberta Rockies not in public interest

Public hearings on the project in southern Alberta’s Crowsnest Pass region were held last fall

Most Read