OSOYOOS — Grief has struck students and staff at Osoyoos Secondary. After fighting to save their school for the past two-and-a-half months, the Okanagan-Similkameen School Board voted 4-3 to close the school Wednesday night.
READ MORE: Osoyoos Secondary to close, parents furious
“I was full-out bawling, I was so disappointed that the school’s closing,” says Alex Brunner, an eighth grader.
It was requested that the board defer the decision for another year, but that was rejected.
“To delay it another year would not be a good learning environment for anyone in that school,” says school board chair Marieze Tarr.
The school closure means Osoyoos will be the largest town in the province without a high school.
The issue became a hot topic of debate in the B.C. legislature Thursday with the opposition education critic directing biting questions to the Minister of Education.
“Does he really have such little regard for the Town of Osoyoos and the people of Osyoos that he’s prepared to stand by and watch their only high school close because his education budget failed them?” questioned Rob Fleming.
But Education Minister Mike Bernier says declining enrollment is to blame, and the province shouldn’t interfere with school board decisions.
“Those decisions are best made on the local level, the ones who understand their communities,” says Bernier.
Brenda Dorosz, the head of the Save our School committee, isn’t ready to throw in the towel
“The fight isn’t over yet,” she says.
To try to save the high school open, some parents are even looking into operating it as an independent facility.
“We would try to do it under the process of a 50 per cent funding model. So if a student was funded $10,000, we would get $5,000 of that. And then we would use private sector funding as well,” explains Dorosz.
It appears town council is on board.
“We will be the resource and support the committee to look at this option,” says town councillor Mike Campol.
He adds the school closure would have an adverse ripple effect on the entire town.
In order to operate an independent school by fall, the committee must submit the proper paperwork by May 1.