Gold Trail plans more consultation

School District 74 is looking for public input on a long range facilities plan.

The Gold Trail school district is launching another set of community consultations later this month, asking the public for their input into a Long Term Facilities Plan.

This time the “conversation” will be in two steps, with the first step consulting with community leaders in Ashcroft, Cache Creek, Clinton, Lytton and Lillooet. After that, the general public will be invited to share their views.

The Board has been planning this for a number of months, said Carmen Ranta, chair of the Gold Trail Board of Education. She added that they’ve modified the feedback process so that this time they can accept feedback for weeks after the actual public meetings.

There will be only one topic this time: facilities.

“We want to hear what is important to the community,” she said.

“We need to know if it is the building that matters, if it’s learning that matters…”

Ashcroft and Cache Creek Village Councils encouraged their fellow council members to attend their meetings.

“I think something is going on with the schools,” said Ashcroft Coun. Alice Durksen.

Cache Creek Mayor John Ranta told Council that the Board may be revisiting the notion of local school closure, which they did in 2010.

“Having a school in our community is of utmost and paramount importance,” he told Council, and it is of “critical importance to pay attention to this. It is uncertain where this will end.”

Gold Trail has the highest declining enrolment in BC, said Carmen Ranta, “but many people still don’t seem to realize that. We need to share the pressures we’re under.”

She said the province has provided funding protection for the District’s declining enrolment for many years, but last Spring it was announced that it would be discontinued.

“We know our budget will be going down,” she said. “Decisions on budget need to be prioritized.”

The Board will receive a report from the meetings in September. If there are any actions recommended, they will be discussed by trustees in the fall.

The public meetings will be held from 7-8:30 pm in Ashcroft (high school) Apr. 2; Clinton on Apr. 8; Lytton on Apr. 10 and Cache Creek on Apr. 11.