Residents of 16 Mile will not see their school district area change, but there will be more discussion of proposed changes affecting which trustee residents of the Ashcroft Band, Venables Valley, and Highland Valley will vote for in future elections.
The trustees of the Board of Education of School District No. 74 (SD74) have decided against changes to the electoral area boundaries for Rural Area “C” (Clinton and Loon Lake), but will be holding further consultation about changes to Rural Area “E”, and Vicky Trill — trustee for the Village of Ashcroft — hopes that residents will provide feedback to the school district.
At its Oct. 5 meeting, the board discussed the proposed alterations. One change would have seen the residents of 16 Mile moved from Area “C” to Area “D” (Cache Creek and surrounding communities), while the other would see residents of Venables Valley, Highland Valley, and the Ashcroft Indian Band move from Area “E” to the Village of Ashcroft.
Each of the seven areas within SD74 has a different elected trustee, for whom residents vote every four years.
A handful of public submissions spoke against the proposed changes in general, and the changes to 16 Mile in particular. “Please don’t change the boundaries,” wrote one person. “The trustee for the Clinton area always has time and I feel if we change 16 Mile to Cache Creek we may not get the same feedback as we do with the Clinton area trustee.”
At the Oct. 5 meeting, secretary-treasurer Trudy Rasmuson noted some challenges surrounding the issue, including lack of population numbers for rural areas outside municipalities; lack of clear boundaries for unincorporated areas such as 16 Mile; and little feedback from residents.
Trustee Carmen Ranta (Area “D”) moved that the board proceed with further consultation about the proposed changes to Area “E” only, and the motion passed.
The discussion resumed at the Nov. 2 board meeting, where the board approved a motion to proceed with a consultation process for the proposed boundary change to Area “E”, with timelines and costs for the process to be brought back at the Jan. 4, 2022 board meeting.
Trill says that she has been pushing for this boundary change for two years.
“It makes sense demographically,” she tells the Journal, noting that most, if not all, of the children living at the Ashcroft Band, Venables Valley, and Highland Valley who attend SD74 schools go to Desert Sands Community School in Ashcroft, and not to Lytton.“Right now, when they vote, they do it in Lytton for the Lytton trustee. Voters would like to vote for the trustee in the area where their child goes to school.
She says that she would like residents to express their opinion to the school district regarding the proposed boundary changes, either now or when the consultation process begins.
“Please say something, even if you’re fine with the way things are. People are already disconnected enough from the Board of Education, without being told they can’t vote in their town.”