Quesnel School Closures “Devastating” says Teachers Rep
Quesnel, B.C. – A difficult week for the education sector in Quesnel.
The Quesnel School Board announced three schools will close the end of this year – Kersley, Parkland and Ecole Baker elementary schools.
“It’s devastating for communities and for families,” says Lisa Kishkan, president of the Quesnel and District Teachers Association. “There are community associations in Parkland, half of the school is actually leased to the community association and at Kersley there are partnership activities happening there all the time.”
And she says Ecole Baker, a dual track French and English school where the English part of the school would be considered in a larger centre an inner-city school, is splitting up.
“So children are losing their friends and you’re also impacting a really vulnerable community.”
And while students and teachers will be moved to other schools, she says support staff will face layoffs (at a savings she estimates at around $300,000 to the district).
“We’re looking at three custodians, three secretaries, six to 10 people. Those are jobs, those are people that shop here, people that pay taxes here.”
Kishkan says Victoria is to blame for what’s happened, not the school board or declining enrollment.
“Declining enrollment plays a very small part in what’s happening with funding in the school district,” she says. “Next year our district is going to have to find upwards of $800,000 in a very small district with a $33 million budget.”
She says additional costs due to increases to things like MSP premiums and BC Hydro rates have made balancing budgets difficult.
“Districts are required to pay increased costs without receiving increased funding to offset that.”