Let’s leave the name-calling on the playground

Personal attacks were seemingly the only action resulting from what should be one of area’s main focuses – low enrolment potentially leading to closed schools.

Personal attacks were seemingly the only action resulting from what should be one of area’s main focuses – low enrolment potentially leading to closed schools.

Letters to the editor slagged the letter “he” wrote about “her” letter, Trail residents indicated Rosslanders’ goals were farfetched and locals up the hill called Trail a bully.

Let’s leave the name-calling on the playground and refocus.

Thankfully a district-wide community education conversation is scheduled for mid-February with focus group meetings to follow in early March. This after the majority of the school board voted to postpone meetings originally planned for this month in wake of criticism from groups and individuals, including Rossland Mayor Greg Granstrom, who flat-out rejected the planning document that puts closing Rossland Secondary in all four of its best-case scenarios.

I was bused as a child growing up in a rural area outside Ottawa and if anything, this added to my elementary experience. But I think keeping RSS in the Golden City holds more weight than just a bus ride down the hill. Residents don’t want to see that integral part of their community lost because of budget cuts – and fair enough.

Close your eyes and imagine that the school in your community (Rosslanders, no need to do this exercise as this is your reality) is the one under the knife. Though most of you may think the numbers speak loud and clear, when it becomes more personal, math is the last part of the equation.

But it’s important to remember this is a regional decision that needs to look out for the greater good, not just one community.

The facts on enrolment presented in the shelved Planning for the Future document noted the high facility costs of RSS.

This ignited a fire under parents and community representatives that wish to keep K-12 in Rossland – who are attempting to find a way to hold on to their beloved school – but has also caused other communities without a school under the axe to pull out the claws.

It’s time to deal with this important issue in a constructive way.

The Planning For the Future document, which also threw Castlegar under the bus suggesting Castlegar Primary and Blueberry Creek Community School be closed, relies on operational costs. And while the truth may not be pretty, it’s important to remember that it is only a planning document at this time.

Delaying community meetings is not the way to move forward with this five-year plan and it’s reassuring that the school district thinks so, too.

It is clear that residents throughout the district come with a common goal in terms of delivering excellent education to their children.

But that single thread has been lost in the document, which was introduced as a means of strengthening the school district, but has divided communities and decision-makers.

This has caused other communities to lose faith in the board of education and on this same note, Trail area trustees recently asked the Education Minister to fire the board for their stalling tactics.

It’s time to talk – not only about potential closures but the other options Rossland Neighbourhoods of Learning is striving for.

Surrounding communities can take a tip from Warfield, where its council has worked hard at bringing community programs into its school.

The Webster After School Care Program, run by Sunshine Children’s Centre, started in September thanks to a financial contribution from the village. The village gave over $10,000 toward the maintenance of the former classroom into a care facility, and both Sunshine and the school’s PAC split the approximate $5,000 cost for materials.

Warfield has since shown support to moving the school’s art program into a portable, a project that is on hold until it’s cleared by the school district. But this would make way for full-day kindergarten and also encourage community art programs rather than only using it for elementary students.

Webster Elementary School’s Parent Advisory Council recently wrote a letter to Rossland’s two PACs in hopes of clearing the air on any preconceived divisiveness between the two communities – and to offer support in what lies ahead.

This was a breath of fresh air, after negative and in some cases, downright mean letters people wrote to the Times.

Rather than relying on convoluted communication around this sensitive topic, let’s move forward with meaningful discussion.

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Valerie Rossi is a reporter with the Times