Alberni school cuts into the bone now

Funding pressures now cutting into the bone at School District 70 are forcing trustees to balance the books by closing an elementary school

The Alberni Valley school district is in the unenviable position of having to choose an elementary school to close as waning enrolment, slashed transportation funding and rising costs have forced trustees into a corner.

It was only two years ago that the district was looking at closing a school—yes, Gill and Wood were on that list too—to help solve a $1.8 million deficit. Efficiencies were found at the time. But the budgets have been scraped so clean that there are few significant efficiencies to be found.

It was telling that at the first public school closure meeting, parents and teachers who stood to speak talked of ‘when’ a school closes, not ‘if’.

The issue is dividing our city again, as those whose children attend the schools on the potential chopping block are protecting what they feel is theirs. We are still feeling the fallout of 10 years ago, when the district closed five schools in one year.

Generations ago, schools were the centres of our communities. Sadly, this is no longer the case; and it is a provincial problem, as SD70 is not the sole victim.

We blame the provincial government for putting our district in this position. So many costs have been downloaded onto municipal school boards, yet the per-student funding has remained dismally low.

Our students deserve an optimal learning environment, yet how can we honestly say they are getting it if our school trustees and staff are constantly having to cut back?

No one will win in this situation. Especially the students.

— Alberni Valley News