EDITORIAL: In a tough spot

Can local school trustees keep their election promises regarding school closures?

They rode into office with a connection to a group called Oceanside Communities for Quality Education.

It’s not like they were running against another slate of candidates who belonged to a group called Oceanside Communities for Crappy Education.

District 69 school board trustees Barry Kurland, Julia Austin, Lynette Kershaw and Ross Milligan were swept into office basically on the close-or-not-close Kwalikum Secondary School debate. They wanted to keep it open, of course, a motherhood stance to go with their group’s motherhood name.

The voters responded positively to their stance and the group took their chairs at the board table alongside incumbent Eve Flynn.

Fast-forward 20 months and this board finds itself in quite the pickle. It looks from here like Acting Superintendent Rollie Koop and district staff have done all they can, and more, to belt-tighten until they are blue in the face, but there will still be a budget shortfall of more than $1.2 million.

Did this successful slate of trustees hamstring themselves, limit their options to provide quality education to the children who are in the district, by promising — by words or implication — not to close a school?

If indeed this board is forced to do the deed — not that anyone wants that to happen — will these four members of the board be breaking a huge promise they made to voters? It’s not that simple, but the optics aren’t good.

Kershaw also campaigned on transparency. She said in the campaign the new board needs to make itself “more accessible, open and transparent to the public.”

We are going to respectfully suggest that goal has not been reached. Not even close.

Efforts to get certain, specific information on a number of issues have been fruitless and/or frustrating, despite the fact these issues could have serious impacts on Oceanside communities hoping for quality education.

Elections are funny ducks, as Kershaw will no doubt agree after standing behind NDP Leader Adrian Dix for a photo op on a May campaign stop in Parksville. One just never knows what might happen.

— Editorial by John Harding

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