One of the ways Jesus is described in the Gospel stories is that he was someone who had authority.
I suspect that this description is offered, in part, as a result of the way he wove scripture, tradition, and reason together so that his hearers discovered themselves nodding in surprised agreement.
But, as a ministry colleague commented to me recently, that authority was surely bolstered by the fact that he did what he said he was going to.
He didn’t just muse about healing people — he actually healed people.
He didn’t just “talk a good talk,” he followed through on what he said … which makes me think about the School District 69 Board of Education.
Last October it was revealed to our community that the School District was in the midst of a facilities review and that one of the recommendations being strongly considered was the closure of the Kwalikium Secondary School, one of two high schools in the district.
The response by many in Qualicum Beach was visceral. Among the various reasons for this, three stand out.
The first is that closure of KSS would have significant repercussions socially, culturally, and economically in the community. The high school plays a more vital role in the life of the town than many realized.
The second reason is a concern that centralization of high school education could potentially reduce the quality of learning offered in the district.
The third reason for the strong response was a sense amongst many — rightly or wrongly — that a decision had been made without a fair consultation with the community.
Like many others who live in Qualicum Beach — and as one who is quite literally, a neighbour of KSS — I found myself disturbed by these events and have been critical of the way this issue has been handled.
I have been especially concerned by, and been public about, what I have perceived to be a loss of public trust in the Board of Education.
I am prepared for the possibility that closure of KSS may be, sadly, the appropriate response to the pressures of demographic shifts and declining enrollment, but that has been dependent on a fair process in arriving at that decision.
The key issues, from the beginning, however, have been the way the issue was introduced, the uncertainty about a hoped-for process of authentic consultation, and a lessening of trust in leadership.
I am thankful that a goodly number of thoughtful community members have chosen to organize and press for a fair process of consultation ensuring that the widest range of options be considered in the decision-making.
I am likewise heartened to see that the Board of Education have made some important moves to allow time and meaningful opportunities for the public to engage in a more thorough process.
While these are still early days, they are seeming to be doing what they have said they will do. This bodes well for the returning of public trust in this important part of our community life.
Of course, as always, let us keep all the parties involved in this issue — students, parents, concerned community members, Trustees, and school district staff — well-supported by our prayers.
— The Rev. Phillip Spencer, St. Stephen’s United Church, Qualicum Beach.