The funeral dirge has begun for two schools in School District 20 (Kootenay Columbia) as the board of trustees embarks upon its facilities review this week.
The district is faced with closing one of the two schools in Rossland, as well as one elementary school in Castlegar, but how that end will come has yet to be determined.
Beginning last week, the district released background information to the public on how the closures could take place in preparation for public forums that begin in mid January, as well as announcing the period was open for written submissions.
When people take a look at the various configurations under consideration (www.sd20.bc.ca/facilities), and they attend the public forums, they should be amply armed to express an opinion on school closures, said board chair Darrel Ganzert.
Although Ganzert said the board was not bound to the current motions passed or to the intention of closing schools, the situation has become dire.
“We are under such budget pressure we have to take extreme measures,” he said about the closures. “What we are hoping is we can get a sense from the public, possibly some areas that would be less impactful upon them, possibly some ideas we haven’t considered ourselves in the past. That is the intention of the public input.”
All trustees will be in attendance at the forums and they will review all of the information sent to them.
The board is hosting a public forum on Jan. 15 at 6:30 p.m. in the Rossland Secondary School gym to discuss potential closures or reconfigurations in the Rossland and Greater Trail area. Two days later the Castlegar public forum takes place at Twin Rivers Elementary.
Wendy Herbert, a retired superintendent from SD 64 (Gulf Islands) will help staff and guide the board through the final steps of the facilities review. She will facilitate meetings, including public forums, and co‐develop resources.
Once the public comment period is over the board of directors will move swiftly into a decision, with first readings of any potential bylaws related to reconfiguration and closures coming Feb. 4. On Feb. 12 second readings of any potential bylaws related to reconfiguration and closures will take place, with third and final readings of any potential bylaws coming Feb. 25.
However, Ganzert hinted there could be additional public meetings held.
“We haven’t nailed down all of the process,” he said.
Starting in the fall of 2008 the district began a process of reviewing its facilities in light of declining enrolment and budgetary pressures. Various reports were generated and public meetings held, all focused on a variety of options and scenarios related to school configurations.
After the multi‐year process the board stated in April of 2012 its intention to look at facilities specifically in relation to reconfiguration or possible closure in Rossland and in the Twin Rivers/Castlegar Primary area of Castlegar.
Two specific motions were passed and had decisions being made around both areas by Dec. 31, 2012. The board subsequently revised the decision dates on those motions to have them completed by Feb. 28, 2013.
“There are time considerations by law, and we have contractual situations with our unions if we go in that direction,” said Ganzert.
Jan. 4 is the deadline for written submissions from members of the public for consideration by the board. Send your submission to: Facilities Consultation, School District No. 20 (Kootenay-Columbia), suite 120-1290 Esplanade (V1R 4T2).