It’s always disappointing to be on the outside looking in when it comes to good news announcements by the provincial government. Monday’s boost to school capital projects across the province was particularly hard to take.
There was Premier Christy Clark on the television news, all smiles with Surrey school children in their Halloween costumes. Grinning brightly for pictures, the $353 million cheque Premier Clark handed out from Victoria marked a big day for hundreds of students, teachers, parents and administrators.
The list of communities in line for new or renovated schools come from growing population centres. Communities like Surrey are bursting with kids forced to learn lessons in small villages of portables stationed outside the main buildings. Of the 19 projects announced, Surrey has eight of them.
If you remove yourself from self community interest, it’s easy to see why the Liberals chose the projects they did. But does that make it fair to the kids in the rural areas where population numbers tend to head in the opposite direction of growth?
The big project passed over in the Kootenay Lake School District is the Trafalgar Middle School upgrade. The redesign has been on the books for several years now and has spawned many closed door and public meetings. It hasn’t been without controversy.
To address proper long term planning and taking into account dwindling numbers, the new direction includes closing South Nelson Elementary. Nobody likes to see schools close, but the new super school that Trafalgar would become seems like a satisfactory solution.
Though the plan is solid and supported by provincial decision makers, it will have to continue to wait. Kids at our middle school will keep attending class in a decaying facility that lacks many of the standard comforts most students in the big city enjoy.
On Monday the province invested in the future. It’s too bad that future is being written without rural British Columbia in mind.