Opinion: Wondering what if?

It may not be a productive thought, but sometimes you can’t help but wonder, “what if?”

It may not be a productive thought, but sometimes you can’t help but wonder, “what if?”

This thought occurred to me frequently as I sat at a recent School District #83 Community Engagement meeting on a Saturday morning.

Engagement was pretty limited, possibly the time of day – 9 a.m. on a weekend – but the crowd for official trustee Mike McKay’s session was very one-sided. Of the roughly 60 people in attendance, approximately 17 were not employed in some way by the school district.

While there were informative presentations from many of the senior staff on the budget, human resources and student supports, it seemed to be a lot of preaching to the choir.

What struck me, however, was how many of the school district’s most pressing financial issues have been given some breathing room.

The previous board was grappling with ever-shrinking finances and the need to make some pretty dramatic shifts in educational spending in order to balance the budget. These included community hot-button topics like school closures focusing on Silver Creek and Armstrong Elementary, implementing bus fees for students and amalgamating or changing grade configurations to maximize student spaces in schools.

These suggestions were causing significant angst in the region – although the situation was undoubtedly exacerbated by the revelations that, for years, surplus funds from the school district’s budget were being funneled into building the new administrative offices. The dynamics of the board rapidly deteriorated into dysfunctional under the weight, with three trustees resigning prior to the education minister stepping in.

The combination proved ultimately fatal for the previous trustees, who were dumped from their jobs, after an intensive review by special advisor Liz Watson.

McKay was brought in to replace the board with a mandate to deal with these issues. Then, suddenly, the Liberal government – likely tired of bad press from our school district and a multitude of others who were also looking at school closures and bus fees – began throwing money at the education system like darts at a board in a British pub.

Parents paying for school buses was taken off the table with additional funding for transportation. Funds miraculously appeared to keep schools considered for closure open.

This was acknowledged at Saturday’s meeting, where Mc-

Kay still noted there may be discussions around school closures, but the pressing need to make serious cutbacks has been alleviated.

Clearly, cheesed-off parents at election time can hold a lot of sway. With Christy Clark’s government headed for a May, 2017 vote, the timing seems pretty self-serving.

But I wonder how many former trustees are now left wondering “what if?”


Just Posted

Dedicated Girl Guide leader recognized with Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers

Maryann Brock has volunteered with Girl Guides for 37 years

$30,000 donation for outdoor classroom in Salmon Arm to honour beloved teacher

Funds from Armstrong Regional Co-op to go to the Shannon Sharp Learning Circle

New South Shuswap community park proposed for Blind Bay

Regional district proposes the purchase of 9.5 acres now known as Centennial Field

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: Sun and heat continue Saturday

Environment Canada forecasts highs of 30 C throughout the Okanagan Saturday

Salmon Arm basketball star to be inducted into national hall of fame

One of Sargent’s many achievements is holding the Olympic record for most assists for 20 years

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

B.C. VIEWS: When farmland protection doesn’t protect farmers

Secondary residences aren’t mansions, families tell Lana Popham

Letter: Writer argues biosolids will damage water, soil

Turtle Valley residents lost the first battle with Nutrigrow/Arrow Transport when our… Continue reading

PacificSport and SportHealth team up to subsidize physiotherapy for members

The partnership is touted as the first of its kind in Salmon Arm

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Summerland pioneers had connection to Middlesex, England

Harry Dunsdon and Richard Turner became cattlemen

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

Vernon seeks additional fetal alcohol syndrome support B.C.-wide

“We are making a difference but we could make even more of a difference”

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

Most Read