LETTERS: Support the needs of students

We encourage the public to submit to the school district any additional options that they feel would support the needs of our students.

West Bench Elementary Parent Advisory Council strongly believes that elementary school closures should not be considered.

Please consider SD67’s decision-making criteria.

Point 3: “Best meets the developmental needs of each age group.”  We believe that Penticton’s youngest and most vulnerable students should be our community’s priority.

If cutbacks are inevitable, please don’t inflict them on five-year-olds. Please recognize that there is a huge difference between busing 11 year-olds across town and busing five-year-olds. Any new route adds an extra hour to a small child’s day as they would need to wind through the large neighbourhoods of West Bench, Sage Mesa, Husula Heights and the Penticton Indian Band.

Studies have shown that students attending schools closer to their homes results in improved achievement, increased attendance and increased parent and community involvement. Any closure also limits options for many in our community who are without a vehicle. If a child misses the bus, there is no public transportation.

Furthermore, I would like to submit for the trustees’ consideration that the closure of a rural school such as ours would inevitably lead to students leaving the public system altogether. This may take the form of private school enrolment, or PIB members choosing to send their children to Outma rather than endure a long bus ride. Students exiting the public school system at the elementary level mean a loss of funding for the district, promising lower future enrolment numbers for middle and high schools as well.

We would like to encourage the public to submit to the school district any additional options that they feel would support the needs of our students.

Rick Hatch

On behalf of West Bench PAC