Woss School slated for closure

Woss Lake Elementary School is being slated for closure next year

“It’s a challenging time for Woss,” Regional District of Mount Waddington Administrator Greg Fletcher told the

board of directors at their monthly meeting Feb. 17. Fletcher was referring to Woss Lake Elementary School

being slated for closure next year. While the Woss school started the year with seven students, it is now down

to four, and it is projected there will be three for next year, said School District #85 Superintendent of Schools

Scott Benwell. In order to keep the school open, there has to be a full-time teacher, an educational assistant,

and other individuals performing duties required to keep the school functioning such as janitorial, maintenance,

etc. “There are costs associated with all of that,” said Benwell. According to Secretary/Treasurer John Martin, it

costs “in the neighbourhood of $180,000 to run the school.” The board would receive funding of $52,000 for the

three students next year, leaving a shortfall of $128,000. “Once the enrolment drops below seven students (the

financial break-even point) the board has to use money allocated for other schools to keep Woss open,” Martin

said. “This is a demographic closure. A lack of students closure,” said Benwell, adding that the district has kept

the Woss school open with six or seven students for the last number of years. The board gave first reading to

the closure bylaw at their monthly meeting Feb. 15. The matter will be dealt with at both the March and April

board meetings. There will be opportunities for consultation and input, and there will be a community meeting in

Woss on a yet-to-be scheduled date.If a closure becomes a reality, “it is our intent to work with the community

to find alternatives for the school,” said Benwell. “We have no interest in disposing of property or schools,”

Benwell said, adding the district likes to seem them utilized in the community “as long as it’s not costing us

money. “This is not the first time Woss school has been in this position.”We had a school closure bylaw (on the

table) in 2010. This is not a new issue,” said Martin.”It is always a sad time when schools are facing closure,”

said Vancouver Island North Teachers’ Association (VINTA) Local President Shawn Gough.”Woss Lake used to

be a vibrant school in a family-oriented community,” Gough said. In fact, the school was originally built in 1961

to house 265 students with seven classrooms, a science room, library and a gymnasium. Woss was a

kindergarten to Grade 12 school until 1980 when trustees decided to close high school classes. Those students

were transferred to North Island Secondary School in Port McNeill. “Through changing economic times, and a

restructuring of the industrial base that did not support families remaining in the community, we are faced with

the prospect of losing the heart of the community,” he said. “The Board of Education will have to weigh all their

options, and consult with the community about the future of the school. VINTA hopes that some way can be

found to keep the school open, but we recognize that with only three possible students for next year, keeping

the school open may not be economically viable.”The school closure news comes on the heels of a Western

Forest Products decision last September to consolidate operations in its central island division. As a result of

the consolidation, some employees in Woss received promotions, some were offered transfers and some were

laid off. At that time, Fletcher said one of the biggest challenges facing the North Island is attracting and

retaining families. “It’s a continuous fight and struggle for our communities,” he said.

Just Posted

Hikers attempt to rescue distressed eagle

The eagle was sent to MARS Wildlife Rescue Centre

Memorial bench for James Reginald Hayward approved

James Reginald Hayward was shot and killed by a Port Hardy RCMP Officer in July of 2015.

Seniors Tour Remembrance Day exhibit

The Hardy Bay Seniors Society received a special tour of the museum

Forensic Nurse Examiners in Port Hardy offer specialized support after sexual assault or relationship violence

Hospital staff who are part of the FNE program are nurses first and foremost.

Injured whale helps raise awareness

Knobby’s injuries may have resulted from a vessel collision

VIDEO: Rare comic showing Superman’s 1st appearance to be auctioned

The 1938 comic features Superman hoisting a car over his head

An adopted cat is the best 10 pounds you’ll gain this season

BC SPCA encouraging families to add a forever feline friend during adoption event Nov. 24 to Dec. 3

Uber official says public needs to push for ridesharing in B.C.

Mike van Hemmen tells Kelowna Chamber of commerce ridesharing would be ‘win-win-win’

15 arrested as Duncan police raid yields drugs, stolen property

Arrests made, drugs and stolen property seized

B.C. co-ops relieved with Ottawa’s housing strategy

Federal government to have a new co-operative housing funding model in place by 2020

Mounties dismantle counterfeiters ring with raid in Maple Bay Thursday

Counterfeiting paraphernalia found along with firearms, stolen property as police swept in Nov. 23

B.C. NDP referendum plan sparks legislature battle

David Eby says public will decide on proportional referendum

Hammy has been freed of his threads, a purple antler remains

The iconic Prince Rupert buck with a piece of hammock attached to his antlers was caught by COs

INTERACTIVE MAP: Follow the 2017 Tour de Rock

Follow the Tour de Rock, as they pedal more than 1,000 kilometres fundraising to combat paediatric cancer

Most Read