Government is continuing to support rural communities with a $733,523 investment under the Rural Education Enhancement Fund (REEF) to help the Okanagan Skaha School District keep Trout Creek elementary in Trout Creek and West Bench elementary in West Bench open, Penticton MLA Dan Ashton announced today on behalf of Education Minister Mike Bernier.
Under the program, a total of 11 rural schools will receive a portion of this year’s $3.4-million investment to ensure they can continue to serve their local students and community. Five schools, including Trout Creek and West Bench, are receiving funding for the second year. The remaining six schools are receiving funding for the first time this year under REEF.
The amount of funding each district is eligible to receive reflects the amount of money that would be saved if the school was closed. Eligibility criteria include:
- The school must be located in a rural community or sub-community outside Greater Victoria, the Lower Mainland, and Kelowna areas with a population of less than 15,000;
- The school must be the only one in the community;
- Closing the school would have a negative effect on students and/or the community; and,
- Closures where the main reason is facility condition are not included.
This investment builds on government’s ongoing work to develop a provincial rural education strategy that looks at public school funding, the condition of schools, and the role education plays in rural communities.
As a result of B.C.'s strong economy and balanced budget, the Government of British Columbia is able to support record funding increases for students and B.C.’s education system.
Dan Ashton, Penticton MLA –
“Trout Creek and West Bench elementary schools play an important part of each of their small communities. Thanks to this fund and record investments in the education budget, we can be sure that both schools will continue to be a part of our children’s future.”
- The program was first announced last year to help school districts keep rural schools open, supporting student learning and community development. In total, more than $5.1 million has been invested under the program.
- Rural school districts in B.C. receive about 20% more funding per student than urban districts – and special supports like the Rural Education Enhancement Fund.
- Budget 2017 commits $9 million over the next three years to keep more rural schools open.
- In addition, Budget 2017 supports $2 billion in capital spending to upgrade or build new schools over the next three years.