Recent History – 2003
December 16, 2003
By Gary Rusak,Daily News Staff
The emotion ran raw Monday night at a public meeting at Rolla Elementary School to discuss the proposed closure of the tiny rural school.
“It’s a bigger issue than just the school,” said Pat Petersen, in one of many passionate dispositions from the large group. “The school is our lifeline. It means a great deal to us. I would like you to consider that with this decision you are going to destroy a community.”
School District #59 has proposed the closure of the school, which currently has 32 students from kindergarten to Grade 6 along with Dokie Elementary due to what the board calls “space allocation” issues. In a detailed rating system handed out at the meeting and previously made available to parents, the board listed the many factors in favour of closing the school and assigned a number value
to each category. Using the board’s numbers Rolla Elementary ranks high because of the “availability of alternative programs” and problems with the “physical structure” of the building. Perhaps the most contentious issue was the former. In a statement that raised the ire of many in attendance, the board’s literature
reads: “In general, the ride to Dawson Creek is about 25 minutes long.”
“That’s a load of crap,” shouted Kathy Petersen. Referring to her nephew, who would have to get bused in to Dawson Creek if the school closed she added, “he would be working a longer day than most people on the board, that’s for sure.”
Five of the seven voting trustees were in attendance along with the administrative staff of board. They were under fire for most of the night.
“The information you have received is not correct,” Glen Cheverie said, referring to the packet of information that the board has received to inform their decision. Cheverie has three children enrolled in the school
“You are going to make a decision on information that is false.”
The board for the most part listened to the comments of the crowd without much in the way of response. The consultation was designed as an information session where board members would engage with the community in order to bring up issues they might have overlooked. Wayne Mould, an elected trustee for School District #59, was one of the only board members who addressed the crowd.
“I am wondering what the effect of the small class size is on education,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing,” he said adding that he has not made up his mind on the decision.
Many in the audience were quick to respond to his question.
“I got a far superior education here than I did in town,” said Kathy Petersen, a former student. Her statement was followed by an aggressive round of applause.
The board will make its final decision on the issue on March 4th at
its regular meeting.