The following discussion paper is posted online using a new technology that allows for citizens to comment on a document on a paragraph by paragraph basis. Comments can be added by clicking on the bubble next to each paragraph. Each comment will be moderated so your comment will not appear immediately. Please read the B.C. government moderation policy prior to posting.
Many of the contributors to the online discussion in Phase 1 understood the challenge with creating a one-size-fits-all definition of a rural school. They mentioned that while there are situations where a rural school exists in a more urban district, there are also situations where a remote school exists in a rural district.
Contributors offered a variety of definitions and criteria. Many identified small community populations as a key factor, though their suggested population sizes varied. For example, while one person said that any school in a community with a population of less than 25,000 could be considered rural, others felt that the community should be smaller than 5,000 for the school to be considered rural.
Many felt that distance from an urban centre was a main factor, though there were varying ideas about what the distance should be. While some felt that a drive of 12 or 15 minutes should be the criteria, others felt that the school should be at least 30 or 45 minutes from the closest town. Contributors also identified a range in distances of between 15 km and 80 km.
Others felt the definition should include the degree of difficulty in getting to school, travelling by road or water. A lot of people talked about a rural school as being one where kids rely on school bus service and those where students have to travel by dirt roads. Others said a school that has students arrive by ferry should be considered rural.
Some said that rural schools could be identified by their small student population, and those with a wide range of grades. There were several mentions that multi-grade classrooms should be part of the criteria.
A few people mentioned that rural schools should be assessed on a case-by-case basis and that each school should be assessed on demographic, economic and human factors. A few people mentioned that the focus on agriculture and industry could also be part of the rural definition.