Potential school closures in Osoyoos were brought up during Question Period in Victoria on Thursday.
“Parents and communities are asking why their schools are closing while the BC Liberals are giving a $1 billion tax cut to millionaires and hitting public education with a $54 million budget cut in communities like Osoyoos,” said BCNDP Education Critic Rob Fleming. “They are asking what Liberal MLAs are doing here to advocate for them and their students and so far the answer is almost nothing.”
In January recommendations for potential school closures in Oliver and Osoyoos were presented by the Okanagan-Similkameen School District. Facing a deficit that could grow to $1.4 million in 2017-2018 and declining enrolment the board moved the recommendations and have been holding special public meetings to get feedback, the next is March 8 at 7:30 p.m. at the Sonora Community Centre.
Fleming called out Boundary-Similkameen MLA Linda Larson for not attending any of the public meetings on the school closures and not standing up for education and “putting kids and communities first.” Minister of Education Mike Bernier responded that he believes Larson has done a “stellar” job representing members of her community and speaks to him daily on the issue of school closures where Fleming has not met with him once to speak about it. Bernier said he disagrees with Fleming’s viewpoint that school closures should be a provincial government decision.
“School closures are made because of a lack of students not a lack of funding,” said Bernier adding that there is a reason for school boards and the School Board Act.