LETTER: Schools need funding, not political tactics

The Winlaw community’s reaction to the rural education enhancement fund was nothing less than jubilant.

Initial elation over funding to save schools like Winlaw elementary has since turned to dismay

Re: “School district applies to save four schools”

The Winlaw community’s reaction to the rural education enhancement fund was nothing less than jubilant. We have spent the past several months collaborating and working hard to lobby our local school district trustees to refrain from making an irreversible decision that would catapult our rural community into decline.

Our argument stood that closing a thriving school with growing enrolment would be unprecedented. We asked is our public education system really so financially devastated that they have to start closing schools that are full?

We have worked incredibly hard for many months, interpreting the data for a proposed long-term draft facilities plan, cast and collated numerous parent surveys, developed and delivered professional and well-articulated presentations at multiple public consultation meetings, and vigorously campaigned and petitioned our cause.

You can only imagine how thrilled and relieved we were to hear of the funding announcement that would seemingly save our school. However, it appears that the news was too good to be true.

The lack of clarity, obtuse communication and incredulous timelines that have been imposed on our district to apply for this funding on our behalf is infuriating.

Despite having been identified as one of the nine eligible schools on the initial press release from the Office of the Premier, Winlaw elementary has been told that our school is now perhaps further at risk for closure due to the details around timing between application and receipt of funds.

Our community cannot endure such a shortsighted, short term funding decision that requires us to maintain a continuous risk of closure status year after year, in order to be deemed eligible. We need a long-term solution that provides some stability for our children and their education in this region.

If the premier’s strategy with rural education funding is truly to seek a long-term solution to keeping rural BC schools open, our education system needs stable, sustainable and adequate funding, not haphazard campaign announcements or political tactics.

Eden DuPont, Chair, Parent Advisory Council, Winlaw Elementary School

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