School funding hot topic at South Okanagan Similkmeen Regional District meeting - InfoNews

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School funding hot topic at South Okanagan Similkmeen Regional District meeting

Provincial finance committee chair Delta North MLA Scott Hamilton, left, with Penticton MLA Dan Ashton at the Thursday, June 2, 2016, South Okanagan Similkameen Regional District board meeting.
June 04, 2016 - 10:30 AM

PENTICTON - School closures were on the minds of South Okanagan Similkameen Regional District board members during an informal meeting with a provincial government representative yesterday, June 2.

Delta North MLA Scott Hamilton, who chairs the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services, was there to ask the directors to make a submission as the committee gathers input for next year's provincial budget.

“If you want some input, I think the education system is underfunded,” Cawston director George Bush told Hamilton, adding if it meant an increase in taxes, that’s what taxes were for.

“We are really hurting our communities here, education is the future of this country,” Bush said.

Hamilton acknowledged the region’s two school districts — Okanagan Skaha and Okanagan Similkameen — were facing some tough school closure choices.

“That’s also something the finance committee needs to hear, but we’re not too big on going out there to the electorate and saying, ‘we want to pick your pockets for another few bucks.’ If there’s another way we can accommodate the education system, then by all means, we’re listening,” Hamilton said.

Local MLA Dan Ashton said he asked to meet with the board because he wanted to make sure the directors had an “early jump” on the sign up list, noting the committee couldn’t accommodate everyone.

“Direct input works. As an all party committee, we report to the legislature, and that report gets taken to the finance ministry,” Ashton said.

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