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Rural education focus of talk here February 1

Prince George area families are being encouraged to attend an open house on Wednesday, Feb. 1, to share their ideas on how to transform rural education in British Columbia.

Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Education Linda Larson and Ministry of Education staff are hosting the event at Van Bien Training and Development Centre (311 Wilson Cres., Prince George) from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Here, interested British Columbians and organizations can express their thoughts on rural education, sharing stories around the importance of rural schools and rural educational programs in a casual setting. Participants will engage in a more formal facilitated discussion for the last hour of the meeting.

Representation from rural areas has been an issue in School District 57 for some time. The mayors of Mackenzie and Valemount, along with the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George have all called for a rural representative on the board. The board, however, has balked at the idea and directing calls for a rural representative to the ministry of education. The board has created a rural education committee and does hold some of its meetings in the outlying areas.

The open house is part of the public engagement process to help develop a rural education strategy by the summer of 2017.

The public can also comment on the draft discussion paper summarizing what was heard from the first phase of rural education engagement, which included an online survey and discussion forum at: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/ruraleducation

More than 100 British Columbians shared their thoughts during the initial engagement through the survey, and over 250 comments were made on the rural education blog.

All feedback received will help government shape a final report on an integrated rural education strategy, including recommendations for the future. The strategy will aim to find long-term solutions for the unique challenges facing rural school districts and communities, including looking at the important social, cultural, and economic roles that schools play for small communities.

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