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City pens letter of protest to school board

Dear Mr. Smith (SD 20 chair);

The School District #20 Facilities Report 2010-2015: Planning for the Future document received September 27, 2010 was reviewed at the October 6, 2010 City of Castlegar Community Wellness and Social Services Committee.  At that time the Committee passed the following recommendation:

 
“That, the Mayor send a letter to School District No. 20 Board of Education Chair vigorously opposing the proposed closures and repurposing of the Blueberry Creek Community School and Castlegar Primary, and further that, Council further review the other recommendations made in the Planning for the Future Document”
 
Council and our committee cannot understand how the School Board could contemplate closure of the Blueberry Creek Community School when it will the 6th school in the Province to be added to the Neighbourhood Learning Centre website as a success story, nor when it had 2,334 participants registered in its programs with over 19,500 attendance in 2008/2009. Additionally we note that while the school district supports the centre with $50,000 out of the Link budget, last year Blueberry Creek Community Centre had a budget of $390,000 of which $225,000 was grant money generated by the centre. This year we note that the StrongStart program saw more than 100 people in September. Clearly the facility is being well used and is revenue positive in bringing program funding to our district.
 
In addition, we would like to clearly state that Council does not support the proposed changes in Board trustee representation. We believe these changes would be detrimental to our Community and could easily lead to any of our communities losing any direct community representation. As Castlegar continues to have positive population growth while Trail has zero population growth, this could result in having five trustees elected at large from Castlegar which would likely cause issues with Trail residents not having any direct representation.
 
It is noted that one of the report’s suggestions is to move the OLL and BBC programs to Castlegar Primary. We understand that in fact that the Blueberry Creek staff believes you cannot or should not have a preschool program in the same facility where there may be students with criminal records. 
 
Finally we should note that while our committee is still reviewing the document, it is surprising that you would close schools in Rossland and Castlegar without any reductions in other parts of the school district. It appears that there are other schools such as McLean with very low attendance. This is an unfortunate direction for the report to take and we believe reductions should be made while respecting each community’s needs.
 
Thank you for your attention to our concerns.
 
Sincerely
 
 
Lawrence Chernoff,
Mayor