LETTER: A plan to save Blueberry Creek Community School
Letter to the Editor:
Blueberry Creek Community School (BCCS) Council, would like to invite all their members and friends to come to BCCS gym on Oct. 20 at 6.30 p.m., SD20 Board of Education and senior staff are hosting a “town hall” meeting to discuss the potential disposal of the school.
At this meeting to discuss options available to the SD regarding the building, BCCS Society will propose that one of the options for consideration ought to be to sell the site to BCCS council for $1 to enable them to continue to offer essential educational, childcare, youth and community programming to the residents of Castlegar and the surrounding community.
BCCS Council was established in 1997. At that time community schools were established throughout BC to develop and strengthen school-community connections and foster a collaborative engaging approach to education.
The Blueberry Creek Community School was closed to elementary students in 2002, however BCCS Society continued to offer early childhood education, childcare, youth, senior and community programming and events at the site and at other school sites in partnership with the school district.
Changes to the public education funding structure, (specifically the Community LINK funding) has negatively impacted Community Schools in SD 20 and other school districts throughout the province.
The community LINK funding is no longer specifically targeted by the ministry for Community Schools but left to the discretion of individual School Boards to disperse as they see necessary. As part of the 2013/14 budget process SD 20 decided to eliminate all direct funding to Community Schools and disperse the LINK funds throughout the schools in the district, that then have the option to contract community school societies as service providers for their schools.
In addition to this change of funding in May of 2013, BCCS council entered a new three-year lease agreement with SD 20, in which the council lease the Blueberry Site for $1 but assume all financial responsibility for the maintenance and operations at the school.
In order to transition to running an entire facility, BCCS Board and Staff have invested considerable time and finances to develop new revenue streams and partnerships to ensure that the society’s operations are sustainable.