LETTER: Rural funding to ensure stability for schools in B.C.

Mike Bernier, Minister of Education, on the Rural Education Enhancement Fund.

As a parent proud to call rural B.C. home, my family understands the unique opportunities and some of the challenges that come with living in a rural area.

We’ve just launched a new program that recognizes these challenges — the Rural Education Enhancement Fund. When a school closes, it impacts more than Kindergarten to Grade 12 education — it negatively affects the local community and economy.

The Rural Education Enhancement Fund is ongoing and is ready today so districts can get the funding needed to keep eligible schools open this September. Districts will receive the amount equal to the expected savings from closing their school if the application is successful.

To be eligible, a district must be located in a rural community or sub-community outside of Greater Victoria, the Lower Mainland and Kelowna. As well, the closure would eliminate education for specific grades from a community. Finally, the funds must be used to keep the school open.

In addition to the fund, the province has launched the Rural Education Strategy to find solutions to those unique challenges rural school district face. Linda Larson, my new parliamentary secretary for Rural Education, along with Donna Barnett, the parliamentary secretary for Rural Development, will lead the study.

As an MLA and as a minister I have seen that our current funding model may create challenges for rural districts. We are going to find a solution for students, teachers and parents from rural B.C.

Ensuring stability for schools in rural B.C. is a foundation to making sure communities can continue to attract new opportunities in Canada’s strongest provincial economy.

Mike Bernier

Minister of Education