School District 27 trustees and district staff move through the agenda of their regular board meeting Tuesday evening after voting unanimously to close down Bridge Lake Elementary School. Since 2013 trustees have closed several schools in the district to combat declining enrolment and a provincial funding structure that does not adequately meet the needs of rural districts such as the vast Cariboo Chilcotin

School District 27 trustees and district staff move through the agenda of their regular board meeting Tuesday evening after voting unanimously to close down Bridge Lake Elementary School. Since 2013 trustees have closed several schools in the district to combat declining enrolment and a provincial funding structure that does not adequately meet the needs of rural districts such as the vast Cariboo Chilcotin

Editorial: Changing rural landscape

School District 27 trustees voted unanimously this week to shut down Bridge Lake Elementary School.

School District 27 trustees voted unanimously this week to shut down Bridge Lake Elementary School, closing the doors on another country school.

Residents of the rural community, located on Highway 24 east of 100 Mile House, did their best to fight against it. They travelled to Williams Lake twice for evening meetings to argue their school is the heart of their community, that closing the community’s school will have a deep and lasting economic impact on the area and that long travel times on buses will negatively impact their children. They were pleading for mercy.

Interlakes Economic Association President Dianne Lawson added that the area’s farming and ranching families needed access to a school in their area. She also argued the district’s consultation process was certainly lacking a human touch.

Despite their best efforts, trustees shut the school down citing a lack of students which creates a lack of funding due to the way provincial funding is currently structured.

As a spectator, it looked like trustees had resigned themselves to the awful task at hand and were simply going through the motions.

They are between a rock and a hard place. Trustees said as much when they spoke to parents.

Why should we care here?

Both trustee Sheila Boehm and trustee Christine Dyment predict they will have to decide on more closures in the district down the road.

Yes we agree the district needs to function efficiently but where do we draw the line? Are our children getting a good education with all the cuts being made?

According to the latest report from the Fraser Institute, they are not.

Williams Lake elementary schools rank 568th all the way to 937th on a list of 944 schools.  We shouldn’t feel that bad though. Most northern communities have low rankings. The top spots are dominated by wealthy, private schools in Vancouver.

Resource communities are the backbone of the province, says Premier Christy Clark, so we should be funded accordingly.

– Williams Lake Tribune