The provincial government is extending another olive branch for school rural school districts to try and save school on the chopping block.
Education minister Mike Bernier says a new ‘Rural Education Enhancement Fund’ will give small communities funding equal to the saving realized by closing a school.
Bernier says Osoyoos Secondary absolutely qualifies for the money.
“Osoyoos specifically qualifies for this because one of the criteria we’re looking at is, this is the only school in the area.”
Bernier adds closing a community’s only school can cause a town to collapse.
“The economic impacts to a community because of that, the local MLA Linda Larson has been very vocal about how this can really negatively impact a community when you lose its only school.”
That said, he adds it is up to the local school board to make a decision to save the only high school in Osoyoos.
Eight other rural schools slated to be closed are also targeted with this funding.
In April, the Okanagan Similkameen School District voted to close the school, despite an offer of $1-million from the town.
The municipality has since filed a court injunction seeking to keep the school open, and is also mulling opening an independent school.
But as the province tables funding to save rural schools on the chopping block, the NDP’s education critic says this is only happening because an election is looming.
Rob Fleming says for years the province has underfunded schools forcing cuts and school closures year after year as districts balance the books.
And now Fleming says after months of causing turmoil in places like Osoyoos suddenly it is the province to the rescue.
“It is a bizarre way fro the government to work. It obviously doesn’t work for communities and regions around B.C. But for an election year this probably wouldn’t be happening at all because they have slammed the door in the face of Osoyoos so many times I hope that finally this will actually bring some relief and make sure that kids have a school to go to come September.”
Fleming calls the ‘Rural Education Enhancement Fund’ a job creation project for Liberal backbenchers.