Who would have thought even two years ago that the school district would be hiring new teachers and trying to find enough space on buses for students?
It seems like only yesterday that the district was facing questions of which schools they could close and how many, due to dropping enrolment.
Memories are still fresh of the passionate battles fought by parents as they tried to keep their children’s school from being one of the unlucky ones on the chopping block.
Trustees agonized over which school’s unique population or special program could be saved intact and which would have to be sacrificed to the needs of a skinny budget that had already been pared to the bone.
There was no way to make a decision that wasn’t going to end in tears.
Community meetings were lengthy and tense, as people faced closures that weren’t just about kids having to go to a school outside of their immediate neighbourhood, but about the shuttering of an institution that provided a social centre for an entire area.
The problems the district is facing now — needing more teachers, full seats on buses — are definitely preferable to the feel of the axe on the back of the neck that.
For some schools, the process was drawn out for years, as initial reprieves eventually gave way to the needs of an inflexible budget imposed by the provincial government.
Some still mourn the loss of these schools. Most still sit, vacant and boarded up, silent reminders of the past.
But time has marched on and swelling school populations make for a future that looks hopeful.
As far as bulging bus numbers, that, too, is indicative of the health of the tally of the district school population.
We must, of course, keep in mind that we’ve got a provincial election coming up in the spring, and it’s certainly no coincidence that there’s suddenly provincial money in the coffers that has allowed the district to eliminate bus fees.
Only time will tell if this is just pre-election largesse or if it’s a more long-term investment in rural districts.
But it’s certainly been good news for families for whom the bus fees were a stretch.
And clearly there were quite a few of them if the rise in bus riders is any indication.
But it all boils down to the fact that growing numbers of students in our public schools is a good thing. We’ll take it. We bet the school trustees will, too.