School closures recommended

Gold Trail staff release report recommending closures while leaving at least one school in each community.

Schools closures are once again a topic of discussion at Gold Trail, but staff recommendations are to leave at least one school in each community.

School District 74 staff presented their recommendations based on last year’s community conversations at the Sept. 3 Board of Education meeting in Ashcroft. The report, The Future of Gold Trail Schools and Programs, recommends a K-12 model for Ashcroft and Lytton, such as in Clinton. The move would mean renovating the high schools to accomodate elementary students and closing the districts two oldest schools, Ashcroft Elementary and Lytton Elementary.

The recommendation will be discussed at the Sept. 17 school board meeting in Ashcroft. If the board accepts the recommendation, the communities will be engaged in another round of community consultations before a final decision is made. The complete report can be found at http://www.sd74.bc.ca/cconv.html .

Ashcroft Council has requested an immediate meeting with the board.

“My questions are ‘what will the savings be to close the school?’,” said Mayor Andy Anderson at the Sept. 9 Council meeting. “And ‘what will happen to the workforce?’ ”

Unless there are noticeable savings for the school district, he said, then there seems to be little reason to close Ashcroft Elementary.

Coun. Alice Durksen wanted to know what would happen to the property if the school was closed.

Councillors will be attending the annual Union of BC Municipalities convention at the time of the Sept. 17 school board meeting and want to voice their disappointment before any decision is made.

Cache Creek Council accepted the news with interest, noting that no action was planned for Cache Creek Elementary.

“It looks like the general gist is to move to K-12 schools,” said Coun. Wyatt McMurray.

“Cache Creek Elementary is to remain open, which I think is good news for this community,” said Mayor John Ranta, who also observed that the report mentioned that some Ashcroft parents may choose to send their children to CCES.

The challenge for the Board, he said, is the declining enrolment and erosion of people leaving rural areas for bigger cities.