Recent History – 2002
June 19, 2002
By Mark Nielsen, Daily News Staff
Some last-minute pleas were not enough to keep Peace River South school district trustees from voting Tuesday to close down Kelly Lake School as a cost-saving measure.
Struggling to cut $1.9 million in spending for the coming school year, the district will save $75,000 per year by closing down the school.
Starting this September, the 19 students who attend the school, located in the outlying native and Metis community, will be bussed to Hythe.
Seven community members were at the meeting trying to convince trustees to change their minds.
Kelly Lake Parent Advisory Council president Anita Savard proposed several “little solutions” such as using volunteers to clean up the school and pick up the mail.
And Kelly Lake Cree Nation tribal chief Cliff Calliou proposed that the Kiyanaw Development Corporation pick up the $75,000 tab in a private-public partnership with the school district.
They also echoed concerns brought up during a public meeting held in the community in May about possible adverse effects on children having to attend a “town school.”
But trustee Yvonne Elden said that she believes the children’s needs will be met.
“We understand that they’re young children but I believe that exposure to the world outside is very necessary today,” she said.
And after voting to close the school, trustees also voted to hire a teacher aid who would not only be present in Hythe but would also take the bus to and from the school with the students.
Board chair Wayne Ezeard also stressed that the school may not be closed down forever, saying that it has been closed down in its present form but may be re-opened in a new fashion.
However, he also said that what form that will take depends largely on what kind of proposal the Kelly Lake community can generate.
The schism between natives and Metis surfaced a few times on Tuesday indicating that finding a community-backed solution will be a challenge.
Superintendent Mike Downey said that the school district is prepared to facilitate and assist the community in finding a solution, but added that there is only so much the district can do. The closure takes effect on July 31.