MP advocates for schools

Alex Atamanenko
By Alex Atamanenko
February 17th, 2011

Honourable Margaret MacDiarmid 

Dear Minister MacDiarmid,
As you are no doubt aware, there is a discussion in School District #20 about the possible closure of Rossland Secondary and Blueberry Community School.
This is taking place as a result of some very difficult budget considerations that School District #20 is facing. It is imperative that our provincial government explore new and creative ways of arriving at funding formulas, especially concerning our rural schools.
There needs to be a service review of urban/rural funding for schools.
You can imagine the hardship small rural communities face when confronted with the possibility of school closures. This often results in families moving away and others choosing not to settle in a community because of a lack of educational opportunities for their children.
Our communities of Trail, Rossland and Castlegar are endeavouring to do what is best for their citizens. As one elected official mentioned to me, “we cannot afford to have arguments and strife”.
Minister, I used to teach at Stanley Humphries in Castlegar and am very familiar with the excellent educational opportunities it offers its students. I have visited the new state-of-the-art high school in Trail and was very impressed by what I saw. In addition, I have personally experienced the creative energy and variety of programs that Blueberry Community School offers. It has also been by pleasure to have had the opportunity to visit Rossland Secondary and to talk to the administration about the variety of programs it offers such as the Ski Academy, Chefs’ training and band programme.
The Rossland Neighbourhood and Learning Committee has put together a proposal to School District #20 for a Neighbourhood Learning Centre. According to the report, this idea is modelled on what is currently happening in School District #51, #27 and others. The idea of maintaining K-12 education in Rossland and trying this with the concept of a Neighbourhood Learning Centre is an exciting concept.
We have the possibility in our school district to look at the strengths of each school and to emphasize these strengths. Everyone benefits from this approach. What is needed is some flexibility on the part of our provincial government to ensure that our small rural communities remain vibrant, innovative and viable places to live. A re-working of the current funding formula would be a major step in this direction.
Original Signed
Alex Atamanenko, MP
BC Southern Interior

c.c.       Mr. Gordon Smith, Chair-School District #20
            Mayor Greg Granstrom, Rossland
            Mayor Dieter Boggs, Trail
            Mayor Lawrence Chernoff, Castlegar
            Katrine Conroy, MLA
            All media

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