(Photo credit Lorne Eckersley)

Creston Education Centre should not die, Jackman says

Garry Jackman says he is not ready to abandon the fight to keep the Creston Education Centre alive.

For nearly two years the Area A RDCK director has been heading up an ad hoc committee of local people to find a way to keep the former South Creston Elementary School in the hands of the community, and continue as home to the services it now houses.

“I have not abandoned the process to ensure the medium and longer term considerations have all been taken into account,” he said on Sunday.

There are many points to consider, he said, including:

• SD8 (School District No. 8 (Kootenay Lake) made all of their critical long term (2016 to 2024) decisions based on an analysis which was wrapped up during the spring of 2016. It did not include up to date census figures and did not account for the court decision on class size and composition.

• SD8 provided their facility plan update in April 2017 based on the assumptions that either the CEC would close 31 January 2018 (the middle of this week) or they would award some form of contract based on the BC Bid process.

• Realizing the SD8 had zero bids submitted based on the criteria they set out (plus I believe they did not even have any bid packages taken out) we can pretty much conclude that the BC Bid process was not a good choice to engage the community and find solutions to the SD8 concerns around saving money. The BC Bid process did, however, delay any chance of open local discussion with the trustees for several months

• I believe the urgency placed on closing the CEC is artificial in view of the fact that the projected operating cost savings are quite small plus we have not seen an updated facilities plan using current census data and including all impacts of the Supreme Court ruling. From the SD8 web site you will see the next Facility Plan follow up meeting presentation for the Creston Family of Schools is not until May 15, 2018 yet there is a new final closure announcement 4 months prior to providing the Creston residents with the data on which the closure decision continues to be supported.

• An ad hoc group of community leaders have been meeting regularly for about two years and have asked the SD8 trustees to sit and have conversations (as opposed to formal presentations at their closed meetings) for some time now. My thought is that not enough community conversation including the trustees has taken place

“There are some good ideas being discussed for expanded use of the CEC. They should not be swept away,” he said.

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