I am finding the challenges with our local school district interesting.
It seems people are reacting to two main issues (e.g., misleading statements and an apparent lack of transparency). This can definitely make people feel misguided and tricked.
There is a bigger picture that seems to be shadowed by the resentful feelings. In the B.C. education system financial reports and budgets are made public. These are on the school district website along with the Board of Education minutes/packages and the five-year capital plan.
As a person who has maintained a strong interest in public education, I can appreciate the big picture of saving money to build the new board office. The old downtown Salmon Arm board office was a money pit with no accessibility.
The buildings the district closed to amalgamate staff are also old and expensive to maintain, with out-dated heating systems, poor air quality and pest problems.
Money will be saved by selling the others and not having the overhead.
School District #83 does not receive much annual grant money for capital ($1.29 million).
Capital basically includes buses, capacity (new building/additions), and renovations to gyms, libraries, classrooms, heating, air quality, etc. One bus costs $350,000, and our district relies heavily on buses, and old buildings need upgrades (e.g. Hillcrest Elementary’s heating: $2.3 million). It seems important to set aside emotion and to do more reading, critical thinking and collaborative problem solving. Transparency is achieved by asking questions and attending meetings regularly.
I am hoping the public goes further up the ladder – as public education is underfunded. For every complaint locally, copy to government officials. Join the Facebook page, BC voters supporting BC teachers and public education.