It seems a little odd, at a time when finding efficiencies is paramount for all levels of government, that Summerland City Council is talking about creating a separate school district.
Especially since school districts fall under the jurisdiction of the province, through the Ministry of Education — municipal, or even regional governments have little to say in how they are created or run.
That’s part of the problem, of course. The Okanagan Skaha School Board’s choice of Trout Creek Elementary as one of three schools to close is still a sore point for Summerland council. But even if Summerland had remained a separate school district, as it was before amalgamation in 1996, they would still have been faced with the same problems of shrinking enrolment and budgets with too few students for the available space.
We can understand the desire of Summerland council to have control over everything that affects their community, but even if they were granted a separate school board, municipal council still wouldn’t have any say — a board of trustees would have to be elected to make those decisions.
Nor is Summerland unrepresented on the current Okanagan Skaha School Board — two of the seven seats are earmarked for that community. Both of those representatives voted in favour of closing Trout Creek Elementary, though both struggled with the decision.
It’s worthwhile noting that Trout Creek and West Bench Elementary weren’t saved by anything the school board did, but by the ex machina hand of the province suddenly finding a stack of money to create the rural enhancement fund with, several weeks after the school board had finished their investigation, review and decision-making, a process that took 10 months.
Separating into two school districts would mean duplicating administration, and the cost for that duplication wouldn’t be paid by Summerland council, but by the students in the schools. More money for administration equals less money in the classroom.