BREAKING NEWS: SD20 votes to axe K-12 in surprise twist of proverbial knife

BREAKING NEWS: SD20 votes to axe K-12 in surprise twist of proverbial knife

The board of School District No. 20 (SD20) voted last night 6-3 against K-12 in Rossland. The majority voted in favour of both K-7 at MacLean and K-9 at RSS, and these options will be left on the table for the bylaw's second reading at the special open board meeting at the RSS gym on Feb. 12.

The board voted on each of the three options in order: 1) K-12 at RSS, closing MacLean, 2) K-9 at RSS, closing MacLean, and 3) K-7 at MacLean, closing RSS.

Trustees Gordon Smith of Rossland, Jen Carter of Castlegar, and Mickey Kinakin of RDCK Electoral Areas I and J, voted in favour of K-12. Trustees Jo-Ann Bursey of Castlegar, Lorraine Manning and Mark Wilson of Trail, Kim Mandoli and Darrel Ganzert (board chair) of Beaver Valley, and Toni Driutti of Warfield voted against.

The K-9 option passed with only 2 trustees against: Kinakin and Carter. Smith voted in favour. The K-7 option also passed, but with 3 trustees against: Kinakin, Carter, and Smith.

Only the K-7 and K-9 options remain on the table for the board's discussion at the "special open board meeting" scheduled for Feb. 12 at the RSS gym.

"We're really disappointed that the board won't bring their discussion of K-12 to Rossland," said Aerin Guy, the manager of Rossland's Neighbourhoods of Learning (NOL) Commission. "To take [K-12] off the table in an environment where there were very few Rossland community members present is an insult, especially given the number of ideas and solutions presented through the community forum [on Jan. 15] and letter writing process."

"[The board] knew the community felt very strongly about K-12 as a sustainable option, and the option that provides the most opportunities for students in the district," Guy said.

In terms of opportunities for students in the region, Guy noted that this decision "effectively kills the blended learning program" that RSS has pioneered in the school district as part of the Ministry of Education's mandated 21st Century Learning approaches.

The Rossland Sustainability Commission recently released a report on the results of an open-question survey on what does and doesn't make Rossland a family friendly place to live. Among many responses, having K-12 in Rossland was overwhelmingly the top response.

Guy added, "[The board] has chosen to ignore the mountain of evidence provided to them of the overcrowding that will happen in the very near future. But their decision is basically irreversible. It's short sighted; it's in pursuit of dollars rather than good educational spaces for the kids here."

When the news hit NOL's Facebook page last night, it immediately lit up with comments reflecting disbelief, sadness, and rebellion. Options discussed in the forum ranged from appealing to the Ministry of Education to allow Rossland to secede from SD20, to deregistering all Rossland students to significantly reduce SD20's budget until the board changes their mind.

"They spoke last night: they are not listening to you, to us, and they don't care," one resident wrote. "They don't care that we put forth an amazing letter writing campaign raising many good points. They don't care that we had the most amazing turnout to brainstorm and present even more very creative ideas. This little town of Rossland has blown me away with its energy, creativity, and optimism. We have heard it many times before, it is time to think outside of the box."

One resident commented, "Clearly SD 20 is not representing the citizens of Rossland any longer. They received a very clear message as to what is or is not acceptable to the citizens of Rossland. They have acted in a manner contrary to that and in my view have lost the moral authority to govern or represent us."

Another resident agreed, "If these are the kinds of irrational and nonsensical decisions the school board are making, Rossland is far better off without SD20 anymore. Better that we put our time and effort into new solutions instead of wasting it fighting a losing battle."

Former NOL Committee manager Jennifer Ellis noted, "Unfortunately there is not much of a precedent for leaving a school district. That is not to say it can't be done. But we would have to be breaking new ground."

Section 176 of the BC School Act provides the legal avenue for secession. In particular, the Lieutenant Governor in Council—currently Judith Guichon—has the power to “create,” “define,” and "alter the boundaries" of a school district. In that event, the "assets of the board of a school district, including funds, must be disposed of …" for example, if "part of the area of the school district becomes included in another school district."

Although some precedents exist for portions of a school district to switch to another school district, there is no precedent for a stand-alone municipal school district, although the legislation does not rule this out.

"Talk of secession is only natural," Guy said. "It's what you hear on the streets, and when you talk to people. They're fed up with the situation. They don't have faith in the board as stewards of our kids' education in a lot of ways. And they really do value K-12 in the community."

NOL will meet tonight to discuss options and strategy for education in Rossland. "We're going to look into absolutely everything," said NOL member Shelley Ackerman. "We don't know which doors will open and which will close."


adequate facilities

Adequate school space is not an amenity, it is a necessity!  It requires good planning.

A few facts:

present SD20 K-7 enrollment Rossland: 331students , by 2017: 400+ students

present SD20  K-7 enrollment Trail: 306

Many students from both cities go to other schools: Francophone, St Mikes. lots of Rossland kids in St. Mikes BTW, homeschoolers, too but SD20 doesn't get funding for them so they don't count them.

Maclean school is 20% smaller than Glenmerry on 1/2 of the land.

Maclean school is less than 1/2 the size of Fruitvale Elementary.

Maclean school is smaller than Robson Elementary.

Maclean school is smaller by far than Webster, Twin Rivers, Kinnard.

The site 1.1 hectres makes it ineligible for rebuild or reno and unsuitable for portables.

City of Trail was established around 1896,  eight years later,  the Annex/ Drill Hall was built. It requires approx. 1/2 million dollars to upgrade. SD20 proposes to spend $20,000 only. They will put up some dividers in the gym area and call that classroom space. It still will not be enough. In a few short years, there won't even be enough space for K-5.

The Maclean K-7 option will not support Rossland  families now or in the future. Only the most unreasonable of trustees would choose it.

We need the Rossland Secondary School building for our future enrollment. We hope we can partner with our school district and reach a reasonable conclusion.




We go to Trail for the

We go to Trail for the dentist twice a year, the optometrist yearly, and I walk to my hairdresser's shop in downtown Rossland for beautiful cuts. How this can be compared to my daughter being able to walk to school every day, I can't see. But I value her ability to do so enormously and would never have chosen Rossland as our home if our kids had to be bused out of town for school. And I know I'm not alone in this thinking.

Responded in the wrong spot

Responded in the wrong spot again. Sorry. This is in response to Pat Jenner's comment at the bottom. One of these days I'll get this right...

How about walking to school

How about walking to school as my kids do and I suspect a very large percentage of the kids that attend RSS do.

The bus option is not environmentally frienldy, time consuming, at times unsafe and the real cost has not been factored in. This was admitted by the board at the RSS meeting.

We will have no success dealing with these people. They are making poor decisions and not listening to reason or considering options.

I really don't want the city of Rossland involved in this given their track record. It also burdens the elderly and residents who chose not to have children.

I believe we should move ahead quickly and aggresively with the formation of an independent high school in Rossland. It wont be the easiest option but will provide us the most options for marketing to international students, the sports academy and a modern approach to education. The combination of the community of Rossland, Red Mountain, the xcountry facilities and the mountain biking can make this a profitable business.

don't worry

as soon as they finish paying off the loans for the olympics, they will put education back on the table and not before.

some of you warned us of this but we didn't find it convenient to grasp the message.

Yes!!! Thumbs up x10!

Yes!!! Thumbs up x10!

Be like Lesotho

At times like this, I like to look towards Lesotho for inspiration; Not only is it, too, a mountain kingdom, but it is an enclave nation- South Africa envelopes little old Lesotho, borders it on all sides.

While we may not speak Sesotho, we are clearly not speaking the same language as SD20, and while this alone may not be reason enough to secede or declare independence, Rossland has gone to extreme lengths to devise a common tongue and common ground on which to meet.

Now the land has been pulled out from under us, and the only tongues hanging about are the ones left sticking out at us.  

Responding in-kind and idle-some-more threats gets us nowhere though- I dislike the apocalyptic chatter that has a mass exodus resulting from the loss of K-12 in town, because it suggests that all rational and attainable avenues have been lost to the advancing zombie hordes, intent on shambling and shrugging about their lot and unwilling to do anything more than moan.

Maybe this is exactly what we need. Our forebears, the people that eked out a living here back in the day, were first and foremost workers; the Miner's Hall didn't get built with matching grant monies, and the boomtown that was Rossland didn't result from weak-kneed giveuppance.

As is the case now, there were resources to mine- We have a lot of committed, hard-working people here, and for those who have enjoyed the amenities of town while remaining hands-off on local issues, this is your wakeup call- Help us dig in. 

I must really like this place, because every time I leave I feel guilty when something crappy happens... maybe it's not the healthiest response, but it's an utterly genuine one. Keep the homefires burning, Rossland. We got this.

Best laugh-out-loud comment of the year

Thanks Mr. Bradley: a fine example of the dry wit and cutting intellect that help characterize the Mountain Kingdom...I wouldn't doubt there's a Sesotho speaker in town.

I don't interpret the chatter as idle threats of an apocalyptic exodus, however. I hear it as a natural reaction, and I also hear progress.

I'm an ecoregional libertarian at heart, and Rossland's educational ecoregion is, by-and-large, Rossland. (As for liberty, we're shackled to curriculum and bureaucracy.) Yes, I absolutely believe in exchanges and travel for competition and cooperation between schools. But day-in-day-out, a Rossland kid should be able to go to a Rossland school, period. Any institution that threatens this vision is irrelevant to and disrespectful of our sociogeocultural needs.

The solution is here and now: Rossland's population, collectively, represents a huge wealth of knowledge and experience. As part of this wealth, there are plenty of great teachers of the verified B.Ed. variety who want to live (and work) here. And there are plenty of students who want to learn here, both locally and internationally.

As Andrew Zwicker told the board during the public forum on Jan. 15, everyone wants to live here, they just don't know it yet.

Partly we need more marketing. Okay. Better still, it's partly a matter of continuing to be the change, being a hub, being a magnet, being different.

The potential for Rossland to be a hub of excellent and alternative education is real. So the entire "problem" seems more like an opportunity for us to seriously reassess community resources, our real wealth, and the means we have to connect, synergize, and deploy real learning opportunities better than anything most kids ever experience.

These goals do not require secession to achieve, however, and it is unlikely to reach the point of secession in any case, even if that does offer long term flexibility and security. 

Reading between the lines, K-12 is only off SD20's table in a theoretical way.  More likely, I expect we'll see a deal hammered out for Rossland to pay the district between $140,000 and $300,000 per year to keep K-12 in town. The deal's unlikely to go through before March, and maybe not before the summer, but soon enough.

An NOL survey recently found Rosslanders are willing to supplement provincial funds with municipal funds to ensure K-12 sticks around. Behind-the-scenes talks are ongoing.

Now, having voted against K-12, SD20 has effectively forced Rossland's hand to negotiate some kind of deal as the board publicly continues to churn through second and third reading of the K-9 and K-7 options.

It smacks of something unsavory to me, like a spindly carrot and a knobbly stick, and I think any deal will be a short-term fix to a broken system. But it could work, for now.

Regardless, even as some of us are overly distracted by dreams of ecoregional educational libertarianism, you're right on Tyler: we've got this, it's all good.

bigger picture

i am an ego-logical savoir-fairian, so there.

a couple of years ago the school board started putting the bussed children of the area into the regional district public transit system.

(mr. kinakin is a member of the rdck, but i don't know if that is relevant or not.)

they did this, for one reason, to try to make the (almost rural) bus system more viable, because if we are to save the earth from the global warming boogie man, one of the good things is mass transit instead of single occupancy automobile use. secondly it was to save the school district the cost of a bus system of thier own. (again i have no knowledge of whether these planned savings ocurred or not).

another (i think) piece in this puzzle was the b.c. govornment drivers liscencing system all of a sudden became a bigger deterrant to young drivers with the graduated liscencing system. this under the guise of making young drivers safer. i don't at this time have any news as to whether it is making a difference or not.

so, there are larger pictures to try to see. conditioning kids to be comfortable in a bus system is not a bad thing, if they plan to go to colleges in cities for instance.

there are probably more things to factor in still.

I don't know what you

I don't know what you savoir-fairians are smoking, but it seems good! 

Tell you what though, when I was a kid going to school, I bussed through a city of 15 million people, 45 minutes to an hour and a half each way, (depending on traffic) swallowing diesel fumes and wasting my time.

And now I live in Rossland and walk places, thank all that is good for the privilege to choose to live here.

I don't think we get "conditioned" to sitting on public transit or to the supposed inevitability of commuting. For me, living in a home that's walking distance from main amenities is downright important.

Not that a trip down to Trail is nearly so bad as my childhood rides, but as Tyler Merringer recently wrote, it's still an hour wasted every day, and a huge thorn in the side of families' flexibility, besides a waste of fuel.

What beats a posse of kids joking around on their way home from school, pushing each other into snow banks, messing around, having fun and being active... Priceless.


walk to the dentis'st office, optometrist's office, or more recently the barber's office llately? 

oh, i forgot that you got your last haircut from the people who work with the cancer fund. cost effective and worthy in one fell swoop.

our town is following some fairly large trends toward consolidation whether we like it or not andrew and i am by no means in favor of it, just because i can see it.

15 million people will most likely never be possible here, but i've been wrong before. that's just a real estate speculator's wet dream.

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