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Osoyoos loses its only secondary school

Last Updated Apr 27, 2016 at 10:25 pm PDT

Osoyoos Secondary School (Courtesy School District 53)
Summary

Parents, students and mayor come away disappointed as school district announces closure of Osoyoos Secondary.

Mayor of Osoyoos angry that school district turned down an offer of money to keep secondary school open.

OSOYOOS (NEWS 1130) – School District 53 voted Thursday night to shut down the only high school in Osoyoos.

Osoyoos Secondary School will close after June. The district says it needed to take action because of declining enrolment.

But the prospect of losing the school led to an outcry in the town of 5,000. Even the town’s council offered up $1 million in a bid to keep the school open.

“Not only cash, but we offered to do some of the ground maintenance like snow removal and grass cutting. I know that is a CUPE position, but at least it was an offer,” says Osoyoos Sue McKortoff, herself a former teacher who has lived in the town for 48 years.

She says the town is so angry at the closure, legal action is not out of the question.

“An injunction perhaps, about the way things were handled. We don’t think things were handled correctly. Our lawyers are definitely looking at this.”

The school closure forces 240 students to take buses to the next nearest high school in Oliver, 22 kilometres away.

The mayor¬†takes issue with the district’s contention that enrolment no longer merits the operation of the school. She says given people are escaping big cities and their real estate prices, she anticipates population growth. She also notes that a corrections centre is being built north of Oliver.

The school was only built in 1979, and attached to it is a community theatre, which the town helped fund. The mayor fears closure will mean the loss of the recital space.

Meanwhile, parents have formed a group to try to establish an independent school in the town.