I bet the School District 20 board of education is, right now, wishing it had Stephen Harper's discretionary power and could just prorogue the whole district until this budgetary mess goes away ...or at least until the public forgets about it.
Of course, they can't ... no more than I can “prorogue” this issue of the paper because I've been feeling kind of lazy this week.
My son, just the other day, asked if he could take a day off school ... a mental health day, he said, because he just didn't want to cope with anything that day.
“No honey,” I said. “Only the Prime Minister gets to do that.”
The rest of us have to show up – that's just how it is.
Having said that, there are certainly those who are just as ineffectual when they do show up as Parliament will be in the coming weeks ... while our federal government appears to be taking a don't-show-up approach to its current difficulties, the provincial powers-that-be are showing up and taking a do-nothing-say-nothing tack instead.
And the scary part is, it seems to be working for them.
With municipalities begging the province for help on the one hand and major industry demanding solutions from the province on the other, the province appears to remaining strictly hands-off, claiming the taxation problems like the one between Celgar and Castlegar are strictly municipal issues ... despite all evidence to the contrary.
Every stakeholder but the province is saying otherwise, even the B.C. Supreme Court is having to cope with the resulting mess ... but the province is standing firm in what seems to be a, “But look, we're hosting the Olympics, aren't we fabulous,” response.
Meanwhile, SD 20 is having to face irate citizenry and rallying municipalities as they attempt to manage the fallout from provincial budget cuts ... the province remains silent. A month ago, Trail mayor and council wrote to the provincial ministry asking for third-party intervention to find solutions to problems presented by the SD 20's diminished budget ... there's been no reply.
“But look, we're hosting the Olympics, aren't we fabulous?”
Even Celgar gets points from me here – when they chose not to pay their tax bill, at least they employed more sophisticated reasoning than, “we don't wanna.”
There's one final group with a propensity to “prorogue” (by which I mean, just not show up) that I hope chooses to run with the ball instead of dropping it this time.
Attending a single public meeting regarding the SD 20's proposed solutions is terrific – but it's just the start of a long, tedious process for us, the electorate.
There are going to be a lot of issues and agendas muddying the waters in this – for example, the Blueberry concern. There are Blueberry residents who don't want to see the board consolidate its maintenance and busing yard in Blueberry, because of the resulting increased traffic, noise pollution and visual blight (the flipside being the merit of further promoting Castlegar's position as area hub, and keeping this activity in Castlegar rather than it being consolidated in Trail instead). That's just for openers.
Which, if any, schools to close, where to send which students, which programs to protect – all of this will be at stake, and it will take months and months and months to resolve.
I think the district is recognizing that any hope this could be resolved in time for the coming school year is mere pipe dream ...but changes will be made. If we want those changes to reflect what's best for our children and education in our communities, we need to show up ...and to keep showing up ...then to show up some more.
We need to send letters explaining what we want and need, we need to attend meetings, we need to follow and understand complex (and often agonizingly boring) materials, all the while keeping our focus razor sharp on the real issue at hand – finding the best way to deliver quality education for all children in the district.
Maybe Stephen Harper can afford to prorogue.