On November 6, nine School District No. 73 school board members met with approximately 20 members of the public and concerned residents from the Brennan Creek area, to discuss the future of Brennan Creek Elementary. Board members were, and still are, looking for suggestions from the public on options.
The meeting started with Board Secretary-Treasurer, Kelvin Stretch, who went over a slide presentation prepared by the school district. Then several presentations were heard from Ms. Tracy Allen, Mr. George Allen, and Mr. Mike Fennell.
Ms Allen stressed that the local logging company (Allen Logging) is looking for truck drivers and other equipment operators, and those hired may possibly move to the area with their families, which would increase the number of potential students for the school. She also expressed concern over what would happen to the school building and property if it does close, either temporarily or permanently. “The main goal of my presentation,” stated Ms Allen, “is to make you aware that our community would like to keep this school if at all possible as part of our community in the future, and most preferably, as a school.”
Mr. Allen spoke about the history of the school, and the feeling of community that the school has brought to the residents of the Brennan Creek area over the years. If the school has to be closed, he would very much like for the community to continue to use the building and grounds as a community centre. It is also the only location in Brennan Creek that has high speed internet, something the residents would not like to lose.
Mr. Fennell spoke as the Thompson Nicola Regional District Area ‘O’ representative, saying that the TNRD would be very interested in assisting the community in whatever capacity they are able, but any discussions regarding this with the TNRD will need to wait until after the elections on November 17.
Following the presentations, there was a period of discussion over some of the suggestions made.
Denise Harper, SD73 Board Chairperson, stated that no decision will be made for at least a few months, as they will be looking into all the different suggestions put forward, to see if any of them are viable.
Apparently there is still money available to cover any expenses for the current school year at Brennan Creek. These funds come from dollars allotted based on the 2011 enrollment. It will be in September of 2013 that funds may become an issue, depending on what decisions are made.
Another item to be considered if the school does close, is what to do with the teacher’s house, as that building does belong to the school district. However, the school building does not belong to the school district and is sitting on Crown Land. Due to the fact the land does not belong to the school district, this will affect how things will proceed in regards to decision making about the school’s future.
The board members all stressed that closing the school is their least preferred option. Saying that if they do end up closing the school, perhaps in a year or two, if more youngsters move into the area, they would happily reopen the facility.
The SD 73 Board says they will likely call another meeting in January or February, when more information and data on the suggested options has been gathered.