Amalgamating with another school district and sharing services may be the only thing that stops further school closures in the Alberni Valley.
SD70 trustees passed a motion calling for a meeting with the Vancouver Island School Trustees Association to discuss budgets, funding and shared services, as well as other financial discussions.
The meeting is considered an emergency and should be held as soon as possible, SD70 chair Larry Ransom said.
The motion’s bland wording belied a radical concept that Ransom said is necessary to stem the financial bleeding that is plaguing the district.
Specifically, Ransom wants to start a discussion about amalgamating school districts and sharing services. The district could seize the initiative with the discussion or eventually be seized by it through a government decision.
“We need to show leadership,” he said.“If we don’t do it government will do it for us, and we won’t like the picture.”
Ransom advocated for the district to launch its own talks with other districts. But trustees agreed that VISTA would be the best starting point.
“We need to entertain a discussion about what are our next steps,” Ransom said.
Trustee Pam Craig cautioned the move, saying there is little time before the district has to adopt its budget.
The idea is already being discussed in the broader context. There has already been discussion provincially about sharing legal services, payroll and resource allocation, secretary treasurer Lindsay Cheetham said.
“Everything is on the table as far as I’m concerned,” Ransom said.
Trustee Rosemarie Buchanan cautioned trustees that the Ministry of Education has already spoken against the move at a recent meeting.
“Peter Fassbender said that there will be no amalgamation of school districts in B.C.,” she said. “They’re not going to eliminate school boards.”