School board decides to close Osoyoos Secondary School - InfoNews

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School board decides to close Osoyoos Secondary School

FILE PHOTO - A protest involving a cross section of the Osoyoos community in front of the secondary school in March. The Okanagan Similkameen school board voted to close Osoyoos Secondary School last night, April 6, 2016.
April 07, 2016 - 8:58 AM


OSOYOOS - People were yelling and screaming at trustees who narrowly voted last night in favour of closing the high school in Osoyoos.

Okanagan Similkameen school board trustees voted 4-3 last night, April 7, to close Osoyoos Secondary School. The school will close at the end of June and students in grades 8 to 12 will be bussed to Southern Okanagan Secondary in Oliver.

Trustee Sam Hancheroff says the meeting at the Osoyoos Secondary School theatre began amicably enough, but things soured after the board made its decision.

“It started off very positive. Most of the trustees arrived early and as the theatre filled, (school board) chair Marieze Tarr cautioned those arriving this was our regular meeting and order had to be maintained,” he says.

Keremeos trustee Myrna Coates put forward a motion to table the decision for one year, Hancheroff says, but after some debate the motion was defeated.

“It was crazy after that. People were screaming and yelling, Marieze had to call for order several times,” he says.

Hancheroff says police insisted on escorting the board to their vehicles after the meeting.

The provincial government provides funding for schools and it's up to us to balance the budget, he says.

“I don’t see any other way around it and didn’t feel putting off the decision for a year would change anything. I don’t think people were ready for us to say this,” he says.

Save Our Schools chair Brenda Dorosz says there were roughly 600 people at the meeting, half of whom couldn’t fit into the theatre.

She says the numbers were down.

“I think once people realized what the decision was going to be they figured why waste their time,” she says.

She commended trustee Myrna Coates for standing up to the rest of the board with her motion to delay a decision on the school's closure for a year.

“That drew a big round of applause because it was clear to everyone she was standing against the rest of the board and was having a hard time doing it,” Dorosz says.

Dorosz says parents are looking at starting an independent school in Osoyoos.

“We plan to hit the ground running on that,” she says, adding there are a number of applications to be filed in order to be open in September.

She says it was a tought night.

"Our kids were outside crying and upset about the closure, but our community is strong and I think we’ll prevail.”

Get caught up on Osoyoos school closure issue here.

— This story was updated at 10:45 a.m., Thursday, April 7, 2016 in clarify students from Osoyoos Secondary will be bussed to Oliver.

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