PENTICTON - The city would like to help French language school Ecole Entre-Lacs offset its costs for use of city recreational facilities, but it will not be through an arrangement similar to that offered to School District 67.
The decision followed a lengthy discussion about a request to have a contractual agreement for guaranteed usage of recreation facilities during the April 20 Penticton city council meeting.
Ecole Entre-Lacs Principal Fariba Daraghi first raised the issue with city staff in October 2014, seeking a service agreement similar to one enjoyed by School District 67.
The city and the local school board have a joint use agreement that allows School District 67 students the use of community recreational facilities in exchange for allowing the city use of school district facilities.
Ecole Entre-Lacs is Penticton’s only French language school and belongs to a separate provincial school board (School District 93.) The school rents its facilities from School District 67, so a reciprocal agreement isn’t possible because the school has no assets to offer the city in return.
Daraghi appeared before council on March 16 to ask for rates similar to those paid by the local school district.
Staff’s report to council suggested the city could incur loss of revenues on several fronts if the request was granted. There would be a loss of revenue from Ecole Entre-Lacs, potential loss of revenues from nine other schools not part of the local district, a potential additional subsidy by the city for the non-local district schools, and potential loss of joint use agreement reciprocation from School District 67.
Acting City Manager Chuck Loewen told council School District 93 was guaranteed the same standard of education as School District 67 under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but the public funds required for that are a provincial, not municipal, responsibility.
Coun. Helena Konanz thought offering Ecole Entre-Lacs limited access to city facilities might be fair, noting its small size.
“If we limit them to what they can actually do, then I would feel much more comfortable with that decision,” she said.
Coun. Judy Sentes said the city’s independent schools were in a much different capacity for reciprocal (arrangements) than School District 67. Because Ecole Entre-Lacs rented their school from School District 67, Sentes wondered if that was a loophole through which the school could access School District 67’s reciprocal agreement. She cautioned against doing 'one-off deals' as well, noting the number of other independent schools in the city.
“I believe the mayor mentioned a community grant possibility,“ Loewen said in response to council’s suggestions, adding the school might come forward with a sum in mind and with that use it on the recreational uses they see fit. “Perhaps there’s a dollar amount they might apply for council to consider, who can contribute as much or as little as they wish, and then it would be up to Ecole Entre-Lacs to decide how to disburse those funds for their programs."
Council referred the matter back to staff to investigate a non-School District 67 rate for use of the city’s recreation facilities.
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