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HE SAID: Public input critical to solving school situation

Rob Leggett
By Rob Leggett
January 6th, 2010

School District 20 (SD 20) has recently made the proposal of closing down several area schools, in an attempt to save some much-needed money. It should not come as a surprise to anyone that the parents of students and, even the City of Trail, have formed a coalition of sorts to prevent the closure of Glenmerry and Webster Elementary schools.

The superintendent and the trustees of SD20 have cited many reasons as to why the closures would be beneficial (for more information, go to www.sd20.bc.ca and look up the document Planning for the Future), and I agree that the running of our school district should be done without incurring any debt.

However, I do not believe that this will be accomplished by school closures.
School closures, if accomplishing anything, would only amount to a band-aid solution and, within the year, the school district will be in the exact same financial position that it is currently facing now.

Some concerned parents – myself included – would like to point out that much of the financial distress could have been alleviated, even if only temporarily, had the superintendent and the trustees not made such blunders as the construction of the Trail Middle School, that turned out to be too small for its intended use. And now, faced with the suggestion that the school board wishes to construct a new office building for the sum of $3.5 million, these parents are, rightfully, incensed.

If the school district is looking to save money, they may want to reconsider some of their spending practices. I witnessed one such waste last spring, as I was getting my daughter from school. Three maintenance men were at they school with two maintenance trucks, while one played with a control panel, the other two watched and chatted. I asked what it was he was doing and he informed me that they were there to make sure that all the sprinklers were working. Later that afternoon, when I drove past the school, they were still there. I will admit that I do not understand the finer points of underground sprinkler systems, but I am pretty certain that it doesn’t take three men and two trucks over two hours to make sure the sprinklers are working correctly.

In all fairness, however, the school board is not completely to blame for the inefficient running of our district. The provincial government and its lack of investment in education should be taking a lion’s share of the blame as well.

The continuous claim that there is not enough money to invest into education is a slap in the face of any concerned parent. I find it incredibly difficult to understand how we do not have enough money to invest in the future of our children, but we have billions of dollars to invest in what amounts to a two-week party in Vancouver. It will cost an estimated $900 million for security alone, and unless you happen to be the type of person who believes you have a leprechaun on your shoulder that screams in your ear every hour, you have to believe that the Olympics are costing considerably more than we were originally told that it would.

The superintendent and the trustees of SD 20 would do well if they seriously listened to the sound and reasonable solutions being proposed by some of the parents (see posted feedback at http://www.sd20.bc.ca/planning-for-the-future/articles/planning-for-the-future-part-ii.html). Not all the ideas or suggestions will be doable, some may not even be rational, but the board now has the luxury of many, many minds trying to achieve a beneficial solution, and if they work together, they will achieve great things…

Alone they are doomed to failure.

Categories: Op/Ed

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