It wasn’t the best outcome expected, but trustees and parents said they could live with a motion that agreed in principle to close Ashcroft Elementary as of June 30, 2015 and return to the question in April 2014 to approve renovation planning.
“It was the second best motion,” said Ashcroft trustee Christopher Roden.
He tried to convince the rest of the board to extend the consultation period to mid-April and establish a steering committee to come up with a design to accommodate K-12 classes. After an hour of debate at the Nov. 20 board meeting, trustees voted against it. Trustees argued that the community had sufficient time to provide input and that they were already promised input on the design.
Roden said that wasn’t good enough. “[The motion] achieved what I wanted it to,” he said. “Now the communities have a chance for input.”
AES Parent Advisory Council members attending the meeting said they would like to have seen a definite “close or not close” decision, but it was better than the 50/50 decision they had faced since the beginning of the consultations.
The new motion will close AES a year later than was originally planned to give the schools more of a transition period.
About 40 members of the public attended the meeting, including the mayors of Ashcroft and Cache Creek and MLA Jackie Tegart.
“K-12 in Ashcroft seems almost inevitable,” Roden addressed trustees and members of the public. “We don’t have access to enough money to keep it going.” He pointed the blame at underfunding by all governments, who spent millions of dollars on things like a BC Place roof, but couldn’t find $5 million to bring a school back up to standard.
Director of Facilities, Mitch van Aller, said it would be a conceptual plan rather than physical blueprints ready in April.
It was unknown how community input for the design would be gathered, but trustee Nancy Rempel said when DSS was being redesigned, individual stakeholder groups were invited one by one to come and give their views.
“I certainly hope whoever the committee is, we’re not just talking about the building, we’re talking about the best education for the kids,” MLA Tegart told the trustees after their decision was made. “My hope is that’s the number one priority.”