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LETTER: Rural communities should make decisions for rural schools

Dear editor,

Regarding submissions to the school board during Phase 2 - Planning for the Furure, people should not worry too much about a "unified" PAC response. The root of the issue, in my opinion, is the dependancy model that we continue to find ourselves in.

I believe that individual rural communities should be making decisions regarding education of our children and I have lost confidence that the board of trustees (as a group) will make decisions in the best interest of our children. Unifying our response with the rest of the district feeds right back into this dysfunctional model.

RSS and MacLean are unique beyond what many people are aware. I have worked in a number of good schools in this district and have had some very good opportunities to see what is working and what is not. RSS and MacLean are more than just students in desks completing courses. They are special places and are worth preserving and this uniqueness is difficult, if not impossible, to replicate. It is a culture and atmosphere that has existed for a long time.

In saying as much, we often run the risk of sounding conceited and in the past people have actively downplayed our achievements. I say, 'enough'. Our schools have done amazing things for children here (and not just for Rosslanders) and will continue to do so. Let us be free to celebrate our successes and dictate the course we will take in the future to meet tomorrow's challenges.

The only way that I see this happening is with some form of site based management. I have advocated for this in my Phase 1 response to the PFF process. It could be part of a district wide shift to put money and decisions in the control of each school and thinning or eliminating the district role. This might even satisfy other communities of the district. They have good schools too and clearly want to preserve what they have. We could explore going so far as being separate or satellite school districts, charter school(s) or even independent. Maybe the schools would be run as an extension of the municipality?

None of these options would be easy, but neither has the last 20 years been. Too much of good people's time has been spent over the years fighting the same fight and wrestling with misperceptions. Can you imagine where our schools could be if all of this energy was spent constructing, innovating and adapting to change? What if Rossland had been allowed to run French Immersion when it was proposed 10 years ago?

Let communities determine if our schools can be viable, because I know they will be and they will flourish.

Bernie Hofmann