The people were ignored

Parent Brenda Dorosz makes a passionate last-second plea to trustees to reconsider their stand on OSS, Wednesday evening.

Trustees with Okanagan Similkameen School District 53 closed a school and killed a community.

Any last hope of reconsideration died Wednesday evening in a hot and stuffy conference room in Oliver, the town where all Grades 8-12 pupils from Osoyoos will be bused beginning next fall. Osoyoos is now the largest community in B.C. without its own high school.

Several trustees played the victim card, one accused Osoyoos Town Council of unprofessionalism, another criticized the media. (Memo to Myrna Coates, please watch the movie Spotlight for a greater appreciation of freedom of the press and how a small group of journalists made the world a safer place for children.)

Sam Hancheroff and Robert Zandee, failed MLA and MP candidates, respectively, even got political. Sad. MLA Linda Larson was again invisible.

Most damaging is the wedge they’ve driven between two communities.

At times the crowd in Oliver was boisterous; impartial observers might even agree with the word rude. But their kids not only got screwed, so did the entire community.

Housing prices, attracting young families, economic spinoff, community identity and kids wearing their hometown jersey will all suffer. The Town of Oliver will reap many benefits.

Nobody from Osoyoos wants a group hug with trustees right now.

Many of the teenagers at the meeting openly wept.

Parents are most protective of their children. If they believe their kids are getting hurt, they will fight back. Trustee Rachel Allenbrand should understand this, she led a passionate (and successful)

campaign to save the elementary school in Oliver that her own kids attend.

Trustees didn’t do themselves any favours. This same board paid a retired superintendent $800 to travel from Prince George to chair an information session only to cut off a 16-year-old near the end of the meeting.

When part of Southern Okanagan Secondary School in Oliver burned to the ground, classes were temporarily moved to on-site portables and not Osoyoos “because it’s important for students to go to school in their own community.”

Throughout the consultation process trustees were incapable of finding creative ways of saving money (canceling last week’s junket to Vancouver would be a start.) Sell the board office and move into empty space at OSS would be one way. The most logical is a full amalgamation with School District 67, something that should have been done years ago.

Back to Hancheroff, he has repeatedly stated the board had no other choice based on the funding they receive from the provincial government. School boards may not run deficit budgets.

That may very well be true but if the only option indeed was to close Osoyoos Secondary School the most noble thing would have been for all seven to resign and let the provincial government take over.

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