Schools will remain open

UPDATE: 4:38 p.m.

According to School District 53 Supt. Bev Young, the board passed the bylaw repealing the school closure bylaw and Osoyoos Secondary School will remain open.

UPDATE: 3:40 p.m.

The School District 67 board has voted unanimously to keep West Bench and Trout Creek Elementary Schools open after receiving funding from the Rural Education Enhancement Funds program.

The decision was made Thursday afternoon at a special board meeting, with board members, staff and several parents and their children in attendance.

Board Chair Linda Van Alphen thanked the parents, telling them the board was in a position where they didn't think they had any choice and what happened here is the pressure they put on the government.

"It's taken the strong voice of parents to push this, I believe, over the edge," she said.

Trout Creek parent Gillian Stevens said she was thrilled.

"I am so happy for us and so happy for West Bench," she said. "It's just amazing to see everyone working together and I'm so appreciative of the grant and the board and all the parents and the community."

UPDATE: 10:45 a.m.


MLA Dan Ashton announced this morning that Trout Creek will be receiving $369,815 through the Rural Education Enhancement Fund.

West Bench wil be receiving $369,404 through the same fund.

This ongoing funding will allow our rural schools to remain open starting this fall, he told parents and others gathered at his office.

Bruce Johnson, the trustee who supported keeping the schools open throughout the process, said he was thrilled with the announcement.

"It's like a dream come true," he said. "The parents and students and entire learning community at Trout Creek and West Bench have worked tirelessly to make this happen."

Trout Creek parent Meghan Steele described it as a wonderful announcement.

"It's an amazing solution for rural B.C. and it will allow them to grow their economies with sustainable solutions," she said.

The School District 67 board still needs to ratify the matter. They will meet this afternoon.

MLA Linda Larson also announced that Osoyoos Secondary School, another school slated for closure, will receive $490,000, with the funding being ongoing.

The School District 53 board also meets on that matter today.

ORIGINAL: 7:40 a.m.

The School District 67 board has announced that both West Bench and Trout Creek Elementary Schools meet the Rural Education Enhancement Funds program eligibility criteria and have been approved.

The information came from a letter received late Wednesday from the minister of education Mike Bernier.

The schools have been approved for the 2016/17 school year and will not have to reapply for the 2017/18 school year; costs will be adjusted at that time for any increases or decreases.

The district has been funded in full and will be receiving $739,219 as a special purpose grant.

“We are so very pleased and excited that both of our applications were approved," said board chair Linda Van Alphen.

The board must still finalize their decisions with regard to school closures and acceptance of this funding which will occur at a special public meeting taking place at 3 p.m. at the school board office today, Thursday.

The board would like to thank staff and the PAC’s from both schools for their hard work on the applications. 

MLA Dan Ashton is expected to make an announcement on the matter this morning. MLA Linda Larson is also making an announcement regarding Osoyoos Secondary School.

The School District 53 board is meeting this afternoon.

More Penticton News