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

Campbell River Storm continues hot streak with 4-1 victory over Nanaimo Buccaneers

Team’s leading scorer, Josh Pederson, earns hat trick Friday night

Cannabis edibles could hit shelves later this month

Edibles, extracts and topicals expected in retail stores before the end of 2020

Aid a priority for idled Vancouver Island loggers, John Horgan says

Steelworkers, Western Forest Products returning to mediation

City of Campbell River to expand CR Live Streets offerings in 2020

Extra $9,000 added to next years budget to add a sixth event to the summer entertainment series

Campbell River woman looks to support forestry workers in a delicious way

Valerie McCulloch is selling boxes of Jack Links beef jerky to fundraise for Loonies For Loggers

VIDEO: Success of wildlife corridors in Banff National Park has advocates wanting more

Demand for more highway protection escalated after seven elk were killed by a semi-trailer near Canmore

B.C. VIEWS: Hunger does not end with the season

Despite innovations in food distribution, the need is still there in B.C. communities

Sharks beat Canucks 4-2 to snap 6-game skid

Vancouver visits Vegas on Sunday

Fans sing Canadian anthem after sound system breaks at BMW IBSF World Cup

The Canadians in attendance made sure their team and flag were honoured on the podium

VIDEO: Fire destroys Big White Ski Resort chalet

Social media eulogies peg the property, nicknamed “The Pharamacy,” as both loved and hated

Prince George RCMP use bait packages to catch porch pirates over the holidays

First-in-Canada program with Amazon looks to combat parcel theft

Nanaimo mechanical engineer creates thief tracking program

Nanaimo Thief Tracking lets users plot and share information about thefts online

Mayor wants B.C. to institutionalize severely mental ill people who are homeless

Those suffering from mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia, need specialized care, mayor says

Most Read