I am responding to Bev George’s letter ‘Blueberry Creek Community School provides net benefit to school district’ (Jan. 20.)
First, I would like to congratulate Ms. George for her diligent hard work in keeping this viable school in her community. As she states in her letter, the programs that are available at this community school are endless.
Most of these programs are made available through grants, which the Blueberry Creek Society manages. Ms. George and her very creative society organize these programs for Blueberry Creek and Castlegar communities. Many times I have enjoyed the entertainment and jam session that happens the last Friday of the month. Many seniors and young people bring their instruments and strum, sing along, or foot stomp. When I praised these people for organizing and giving their valued time to their community, I meant it.
I did not say that this school should close. I stated that possibly the City of Castlegar, Blueberry Community Society and School District 20 could come to an agreement to keep this school open. In the Planning of the Future documents, it stated that some programs could be moved to the CP School or other locations in Castlegar of which I am not in favour.
I did not mention Sunningdale School, nor did I say that I want to keep this school open. Sunningdale was closed many years ago. In fact, Ms. George was a school trustee when this school closed, representing Warfield, Blueberry, Genelle, Oasis, Rivervale (the same communities I currently represent other than Blueberry as the wards were changed.)
We have never used Sunningdale as a community school. It is now used for overflow storage for SD20. If there is possibility of selling this school in the foreseeable future, I would welcome it with open arms. The value of the school is deteriorating as we speak. Let’s get rid of it.
I was very taken aback when Ms. George stated that I have lost loyalty to the Blueberry Creek School. A UBCM Community Connection grant in the amount of $5,000 was made available to replace the gym floor. I placed the first board motion to award the application. This renovation is underway. The total merit should go to Ms. George and her committee for getting additional funding for the completion of this project.
I hope that Ms. George has completed the wonderful idea of building the berry garden around the community centre perimeter, giving the children an opportunity to pick fresh berries in keeping with the theme of Blueberry Creek Community School.
Also, understand that my loyalty stands with the 4,000 students enrolled in SD20. I am part of the decision making and there are several factors that need to be considered. Equity, education, fiscal responsibility as well as accountability to the ministry and local taxpayers.
That is what I was elected to do.
School District No. 20