Issue will not go away

A readers writes with questions raised by a letter from the Board of Education.

Dear Editor,

I would like to thank the School District 74 Board of Education for responding to the petitioners asking them to revisit the decision to rename the newly renovated K‑12 school in Ashcroft. I received an e-mail last week with the letter which appeared in The Journal on July 23. The following is my response:

“I have often been confused by decisions our trustees make, but the logic in this really baffles me. You said that 40.7% voted for the name Ashcroft and that 59.3% voted against a name with Ashcroft as a part of it. Using that same logic, 17% voted for the name Desert Sands School and 83% voted against a name using Desert Sands. No one voted for the name Desert Sands Community School, because it did not exist until June 2, and was a last-second addition, because otherwise there might be two DSSs in the District.

“I would deeply appreciate a clarification as to the logic used. I am only one person, but I know that many others will be asking the same questions and the issue will not go away. There are so many questions that remain unanswered, and the electorate deserves clarification as to why naming the school came so late in a process begun over 18 months ago, and with so little public notice. And why the unwillingness to revisit the decision when presented with a petition with over 600 signatures? That petition garnered almost twice the number of signatures as the number who voted on the school names.

“I am sure you will have answers at the next Board meeting at George Murray Elementary on Sept. 8. I would ask those trustees in the communities not directly associated with this decision how they would react if it involved their own communities, because every school in our district represents more than one community. I personally would like to commend the one trustee who suggested that the issue needed further input prior to a decision.”

Please understand that this was my own response to the letter I received as one of the petitioners, and reflects my own thoughts.

Another question that must be answered is why, when the ballot appeared on the school websites, the name Ashcroft was not even on it. It took the vigilance of a student at Ashcroft Secondary School, who was appalled by the fact that it had been completely left off the ballot. He complained to his mother, who in turn gathered others and protested the omission, which in turn forced its inclusion on the ballot. This meant that the overwhelming majority (136 to 57) might well have been even greater, had Ashcroft been on the ballot from the start of the opinion poll.

The board heard from “(A) member of the public [who said] that their preference was for the board to select a name that reflected the school’s student population. Students are not all from Ashcroft, but also live in communities in the surrounding area. The member of the public noted that when the school teams travel, many students on the teams commented that their home communities are not acknowledged in the cheers.”

It was my privilege to coach at Ashcroft Secondary School for 28 years, and never once did I hear a student make such a comment. I coached students from Cache Creek, Clinton, Lytton, Spences Bridge, Walhachin, Loon Lake, 16 Mile, 20 Mile, Highland Valley, Upper Hat Creek, and Ashcroft, and students from the Ashcroft, Bonaparte, and Cook’s Ferry First Nation Bands. Every school in our District is represented by students from areas surrounding their respective communities.

Mike Baldwin,