Parents extend olive branch

Editor’s note: This letter was sent from Webster Elementary School’s Parent Advisory Council (PAC) to the PACs at MacLean Elementary and Rossland Secondary.

Editor’s note: This letter was sent from Webster Elementary School’s Parent Advisory Council (PAC) to the PACs at MacLean Elementary and Rossland Secondary.

While we do not normally run letters addressed to a third party, we are making an exception in this case.

Dear Rossland Friends,

We don’t need to tell you how deeply, and how personally, parents in this school district have been impacted in recent months.

The threat of school closures strikes close to home: our children, and their education, are at the forefront of our concerns, and of course we feel strongly.

As we should. As we are hard-wired to do, in defense of our young.

And then somewhere below this first, passionate Mama-Bear reaction lies another of our very real concerns, which is the divisiveness that threatens the essential interconnectedness of our communities.

It concerns us greatly to think there may be those who perceive there is a “Them and Us” mentality. We, the executive of the Webster PAC, wish to strongly and unequivocally make it known that there is NO grudge, resentment or ill will felt towards any other group within the district who may be struggling along with us for survival in this harsh economic time.

Specifically, in case anyone mistakenly believes otherwise, please know we are silently cheering on the sidelines for the efforts of our Rossland neighbours. We have enormous respect for the challenges faced by your community as you seek flexible and fiscally-creative alternatives to “reconfiguring” the education your children receive.

Please understand that there are those who feel strongly that our board of education has lost credibility and is seriously off-track. This lack of faith in the school board is in no way the same thing as taking sides on school closures.

We believe that inflammatory opinions in the media and partisan entrenchment of trustees contribute enormously to the mistaken perception of Them and Us. We’re not buying it: we’re on the same side. Over 4,000 children in this district are counting on us.

In some ways, we may all be Mama Bears looking out for our young. But perhaps the bear analogy is the wrong one, because bears are solitary animals, and we by contrast believe in the importance of community. We believe that we need to support and listen respectfully to one another, and at the same time look to districtwide solutions for the children of Kootenay-Columbia. (Are you listening, trustees?)

Please accept this message of friendship and solidarity, and know that we enjoy sharing in the pleasures of our communities together with you.

To those who seek to divide us, who set the rules as if we’re on opposing teams: Grow up. We’re committed to supporting and encouraging each other, working together to find solutions that work for all of us.

With best wishes and friendship,

Webster PAC executive (Jennifer Sirges, Angela Holmes, Rachel Jansen and

Carolyn Amantea)