While the Clearview School Division trustees continue on their spring road show to study the future of small, rural schools, many people and parents are probably wondering what’s the big deal?
After school alarms were ringing last fall when the board considered plans to consider closing Byemoor, Donalda and Brownfield schools, and parents began to panic, the board then decided that no schools would be closed or restructured.
Now, it seems that the issue has moved from the heat of the pressure-cooker to the deep freeze — or the wind has been taken out of the sales.
So, what’s the urgency of these community consultations, especially when these 10 meetings are stretched out over a two-month period?
And why two sessions in Stettler that are just two weeks apart?
It appears that the only schools in jeopardy of changes or closing would be Byemoor, which projects enrolment this fall to increase to 29 students (K- 9) from 26, and Brownfield, which expects to drop to 38 from 40 (K-9).
As long as a school has high and steady enrolment, what’s really the point of staging a meeting in these communities?
Stettler schools, Erskine, Big Valley, Botha, Gus Wetter School in Castor and Coronation School appear strongly sustainable and their futures are far from in doubt.
So what will these meetings really mean for these schools and communities?
What is the purpose of these meetings for them?
It seems that for stable, sustainable schools and communities, this is really an exercise in futility.
Parents and residents might also think these meetings have other motives.
Considering that school board elections are coming this fall, is this also some kind of a pre-election campaign for current trustees who plan to run?
At the meeting in Donalda, trustees urged parents to get involved in their school councils and school activities.
But I was surprised that no one suggested running for school board in the fall elections.
However, when Clearview superintendent John Bailey explained that provincial funding comes in 25 different “envelopes,” with various formulas targeted for different functions to operate schools, could that scare many people away from serving on board?
Provincial funding is simply so complex that trustees and school divisions have their hands tied to make effective local decisions.
What is the future of these meetings to discuss the future?
What will the new board — with any new trustees — want?
Unless a school is in jeopardy of closing its doors, any future annual consultations will likely just focus on the school and not the community.
Only when a school closes does it significantly affect the community.
After a meeting tonight at Gus Wetter in Castor, meetings are set for Botha on April 8, Brownfield on April 15, Big Valley on April 30, Stettler on May 1 and 13, and Erskine on May 2.
— FROESE’N TIME