March 10, 2016 2:46 am

Decision day for Okanagan Skaha school closures

Doris Maria Bregolisse/ Global Okanagan

PENTICTON, B.C. – After months of anticipation, parents and residents of the Okanagan Skaha School District now know the fate of their local schools.

School District 67 announced its plan to combat declining enrollment and budget problems at tonight’s special school board meeting and three schools have been slated for closure in June.

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Trout Creek Elementary in Summerland, West Bench Elementary and McNicoll Park Middle School in Penticton will be closed with students who are set to attend the facilities in the fall enrolled to other area schools.

“I think it’s absurd and completely unnecessary,” said Rick Hatch, a West Bench parent. “It crushes our family, actually. I’d like to say my family and I moved to Penticton explicitly to go to West Bench Elementary.”

Hatch says his family has to regroup because of the board’s decision.

“The kids are going to go to a different school and it’s crushing to our family,” Hatch said outside of the Wednesday night meeting.

B.C. NDP education critic Rob Flemming was at the meeting and says families have been let down by the B.C. Liberals.

“It’s unfortunate that boards like Okanagan Skaha are staring at deficits because these cuts have been passed on to them by the provincial government and they’ve had to make decisions tonight that will leave kids and parents very bitterly disappointed,” said Flemming.

The Okanagan Skaha Board of Education will give the motions to close the three schools a third and final reading March 30, when a special meeting of the board will be held at 7 p.m. in the IMC building behind the school district offices on Jermyn Road in Penticton.

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