With less than 24 hours to go before the end of the school year, the Okanagan Skaha School District received word new funding for both West Bench and Trout Creek Elementary Schools has been approved.
A letter was received late on June 29 from Minister of Education Mike Bernier, informing the district both schools had been approved for funding for the 2016-17 school year. The letter also said that the district would not have to reapply for the 2017-18 school year and funding will be adjusted at that time to account for any increases or decreases.
In total, Okanagan Skaha will be receiving $739,219 as a special purpose grant.
The province’s Rural Education Enhancement Fund was announced on June 15, with the goal of providing new funding so school districts across the province could keep rural and semi-rural schools targeted for closure open.
The province cited the importance of these schools to their surrounding community and list Trout Creek Elementary as one of the nine schools meeting the new funding program’s criteria. On June 24, the Okanagan Skaha board of education voted to apply for funding for both Trout Creek and West Bench.
“We are so very pleased and excited that both of our applications were approved,” said board chair Linda Van Alphen. The board also thanked staff and parent advisory councils from both schools for their work on the applications.
The board must still finalize their decisions regarding the school closures and acceptance of this funding, which will occur at the special public meeting already scheduled for 3 p.m. on June 30 in the school board offices on Jermyn Avenue in Penticton.
Read more: Three schools chosen for closure
Both Penticton MLA Dan Ashton and Boundary-Similkameen MLA Linda Larson have press conferences scheduled for 9 a.m. on June 30, where they are expected to discuss the applications made by their local school districts to the Rural Education Enhancement Fund.
Larson is holding her meeting at Osoyoos Town Hall. Ashton originally planned to hold his at West Bench Elementary, but the location was changed to his constituency office at 210-300 Riverside Drive.