Helping rural schools thrive

In her column from the legislature, MLA Jackie Tegart looks at the state of rural schools and students.

June is a special time for our community, as our young people graduate from our local elementary, secondary, and post-secondary schools. As MLA for Fraser-Nicola, I’m often invited to take part in graduation ceremonies, and I’m always so moved by these students as they make their way across the stage in celebration of their successes. Recently, it was grade 12 students from Desert Sands Community School in Ashcroft who impressed me with their maturity and optimism for the future. I wish each and every one of them the very best as they embark on further studies or enter the working world.

Desert Sands Community School is just one of the rural schools making us proud—and our government wants that success to continue. That’s why Premier Christy Clark recently announced a new Rural Education Enhancement Fund. It will allow smaller school districts to apply for ongoing provincial funding that recognizes the unique challenges faced in keeping rural schools open.

While this ongoing fund will help keep schools open starting this coming school year, Premier Clark has also tasked newly-appointed parliamentary secretary for rural education Linda Larson and parliamentary secretary for rural development Donna Barnett to conduct a full study of rural education funding in B.C.    to seek a long-term solution.

We’ve also redirected nearly $98,000 in administrative savings back to the Gold Trail School District to help it deal with local cost pressures and provide front-line services for students. The district has the flexibility to use this funding as it sees fit, for projects it has identified as being a priority. This announcement was part of a $25 million province-wide initiative that sees all districts receiving funds from administrative savings.

We are confident these measures will support schools in our communities and help students continue to thrive.