Parents saddened by school closure

Buffalo Creek Elementary School loses battle to keep its doors open

Julie Dewsbury

Julie Dewsbury

The decision to close Buffalo Creek Elementary School (BCES) against the wishes of the school’s Parent Advisory Council (PAC) has left some people in that community expressing their disappointment.

PAC president Julie Dewsbury has been vocal in her group’s opposition of the proposed closure since it was presented last September. She had hoped the trustees might change their thinking when they heard the reasons.

She watched a live webcast of the decision to close the school coming down from the trustees at their Jan. 22 school board meeting in Williams Lake.

I’m feeling very disheartened. I tried to hold an open mind before, when they said that they hadn’t decided.”

Dewsbury says she would have chosen BCES to remain open as a “far better building choice,” rather than the nearby Forest Grove Elementary School (FGES).

It’s a newer school, it’s a huge gymnasium – the closure of [BCES] is very sad when you look at what they are closing.”

Among their reasons for the closure, trustees say closing FGES instead would have left students travelling further on the bus than necessary, but she notes that makes eight minutes difference.

The camaraderie students and parents enjoy within the school and the Buffalo Creek community is now in jeopardy, Dewsbury explains, because that is unlikely to integrate into a different school.

She says many parents have indicated they will now opt to send their children to 100 Mile Elementary School instead, which she notes is “fine” for some children, but conceivably, not for others.

The children, who have a harder time learning and need that extra one-to-one attention, are now going to have to go to a larger school where they are not guaranteed to have that attention.

I know a parent who pulled her child out of [a larger school] and put him in [BCES], and he has flourished so much, whereas at his old school he was just not doing anything.”

Now, these most vulnerable students will likely “fall through the cracks,” Dewsbury suggests.

The PAC president says she has a “lack of faith” in some of the elected trustees, particularly chair Will Van Osch, to whom she and others sent numerous letters stating their case.

Even though we presented our arguments to him, [I think] his mind was already made up. It’s as if they fell upon deaf ears.”

Now, Dewsbury says the PAC will focus on supporting parents and children in its community in making these transitions.

Schools of Choice applications are accepted from Jan. 29 to March 15 at the schools, and she reminds parents who want to pursue this option, it is on a first-come, first-serve basis, so they should act quickly if they have not yet done so, as some schools may fill to capacity.