New SD 20 facilities report dooms RSS?

Allyson Kenning
By Allyson Kenning
September 29th, 2010

The latest Facilities Report in the Planning For the Future process, as distributed at Monday’s Open Board meeting, contains four options—all of which involve the bussing of Rossland’s secondary students down to JL Crowe and the closure of RSS in 2012.

The plan calls for the district to:

  • Configure MacLean Elementary as K – 7
  • Maintain J.L. Crowe Secondary as 8 – 12 
  • Close Rossland Secondary School 

Under this scenario, the only other school closure under consideration is of Blueberry Elementary in Castlegar. The authors of the report note that their document is intended for “further public consultation” but the fact that all options involve closing RSS is seen as significant.


According to Visions for Small Schools’ Shelley Ackerman, “In light of this report, it is even more imperative that we as a community work together to decide what it is we want for education in Rossland.”


Toward this end, there will be a meeting this Sunday evening at the Miners’ Hall. Hosted by Rossland’s Neighbourhoods of Learning group, the evening will involve a discussion of this report.


SD 20 superintendent Jean Borsa stresses that this is just a report that will lead to further public consultation and that no decisions about school closures have been made yet. “Who knows what the board’s final decision may be around the facilities plan? It may choose to go with some things and not others based on the public’s input. And the board may also choose not to make any decision at all as long as there isn’t a funding crunch.”


Also regarding the Facilities Report, Borsa emphasizes to the public that she’s “just hoping people really see it as ‘here is an analysis, now give us your input based on this’…One of the things districts and boards are often accused of is ‘well you’ve already made a decision; we’re just going through the steps.’ That is absolutely not the case, and that’s why this process has been going on for two years.”


Currently, SD20 receives $1.5 million from the province “in funding protection and transition grants” but this amount is being phased out and eventually discontinued. The Facilities Report states that “the district will no longer be able to educate students in the manner we are accustomed to and maintain safe building assets within the budget provided by the current funding formula.”


In other school news, the district has been approved by the Ministry of Education to purchase four new school buses at a cost of $497,000. This purchase entails two 76-passenger buses and two 84-passenger buses to replace older models, and this is the third year SD20 has received approval to buy new buses.  In a follow-up interview the day after the meeting, Borsa said, “What’s a little different this year is that we’re going in with a few other interior school districts as a consortium thinking that our purchasing power will get us better prices.”


Next up was a discussion on Big Online Fundraising and whether or not the district wants to invest money in the annual licensing fee for this software program. Big Online Funding provides information on thousands of different corporations, businesses, and other entities who provide grants to support different initiatives. From there, schools districts can search for available grants that match a particular goal, though it requires a person to do the searching, matching, and applying for the grants.


According to Borsa, “There are 8 school districts in BC that have signed up and between these 8 districts they have managed to bring in over $900,000 worth of grants.” The board did not made a decision about investing in Big Online Fundraising and this issue will come back on the agenda in the October meeting.


With additional reporting by Adrian Barnes. The next board meeting takes place on October 18 at Trail Middle School.

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