Secretary-treasurer Kevin Patrick discussed the Rural Education Enhancement Fund with the board at the Feb. 5 meeting. File photo/Campbell River Mirror

Campbell River School District passes on grant opportunity

Trustees troubled by condition of needing to consider school closure

It’s an offer the School District 72 board can refuse.

At the latest board of education, secretary-treasurer Kevin Patrick updated the trustees of a grant opportunity that could provide funds for small, remote school to keep their doors open.

“Part of it is meant to support smaller, rural schools,” he said.

It’s called the Rural Education Enhancement Fund (REEF), and it’s administered by the provincial Ministry of Education. The deadline for the application was Feb. 15. The grant is intended for small communities outside Vancouver, Victoria or Kelowna. The population threshold to be eligible is 15,000 – too small for Campbell River schools. However, the district also serves Cortes, Quadra, Surge Narrows and Sayward schools, which fit this criterion.

Typically, district staff and trustees look for these kinds of grant opportunities, but this one comes with a catch. It is really intended for situations where districts are in the midst of considering the closure of a small school. Trustee Joyce McMann asked about the need to consider closing a school as a condition of the grant. As Patrick responded, “It’s not something you can fake.”

The board had only finished receiving a presentation at the same meeting looking at the effects of its decision to close two elementary schools in the community 2016.

RELATED STORY: Most students adjusting from two Campbell River school closures

Even with the potential for a grant, the trustees expressed no interest in pretending to consider closing another school as a way to leverage funding.

“We’re not prepared to put our communities through that trauma. It’s dishonest,” trustee John Kerr said.

McMann said the board had made it clear to school communities such as Quadra and Surge Narrows that they would not consider closing schools, adding it would undermine the board’s integrity.

“I just don’t think we can play that game,” she said.

Trustee Daryl Hagen echoed this concern, saying he did not want to create anxiety in any school communities, while board chair Richard Franklin went further, questioning why the province, even after a change of government, was still offering the program rather than simply acknowledging that it costs districts more per student to operate schools in rural areas.

“I’m disappointed that this REED program is still being put out there,” he said.

Patrick also told the board that with funding formula changes expected from the province in the future, there was a possibility the Ministry of Education might acknowledge some of the issues in terms of funding rural schools.

“Things are subject to change next year,” he said.

RELATED STORY: School trustees consider future funding formula changes

The board voted unanimously not to apply for the grant.

Just Posted

Report of gunshots leads to discovery of man’s body in Campbell River

Police conduct investigation in the south end of Campbell River

Community garden offers learning experience for all

Cedar Elementary converts former playground site into community garden

Wind warning issued for Campbell River

Wind could reach speeds of up to 70km/h: Environment Canada

‘World-class’ dinner on offer at NIC’s The Bistro

Meal prepared by Culinary Team BC as tune-up before 2020 World Culinary Olympics competition

RCMP Emergency Response Team called in to arrest man at Black Creek General Store

42-year-old Campbell River man facing numerous charges

VIDEO: U.S. officials refute British couple’s ‘accidental’ border-crossing claim

Authorities say couple was arrested after illegal entry from B.C., with $16,000 and marijuana

Woman, 24, faces life-altering injuries after being dragged 4 blocks by vehicle in Vancouver

A gofundme account says the woman will have to undergo multiple complex surgeries

Fatal overdoses down by 33% in B.C., but carfentanil deaths continue to spike

Carfentanil, an illicit drug more powerful than fentanyl, causing more deaths than ever

Two RCMP vehicles vandalized in Duncan over long weekend

Local Mounties asking for help in finding culprits

A year after pot legalization in Canada, it’s a slow roll

It’s one year into Canada’s experiment in legal marijuana, and hundreds of legal pot shops have opened

ELECTION 2019: Climate strikes push environment to top of mind for federal leaders

Black Press Media presents a three-part series on three big election issues

Suspect hits woman with pipe, jumps into waiting truck in downtown Nanaimo

Police say victim believes ‘vicious assault’ was an attempted purse-snatching

Most Read