I am not yet sure how I feel about the school district operating a business, albeit at arms length.
The business of making sure students get a quality education should come first and foremost and I suppose for some local residents the news of School District 91 starting up a business and putting a great deal of time and effort into setting up international schools may be a bitter pill to swallow. Especially when district schools, including Muriel Mould Primary School, have been shut down.
The school district are asking for $1 million dollars, which is quite a bit of money to be asking for to get things rolling, however if all goes to plan, not only the initial million dollar investment will come back, but there will be a continual revenue stream coming in to the district.
Being proactive and making money is a good thing, especially when government funding cuts to education are becoming the rule rather than the exception. If, however the venture has any risk attached is worth it?
If the consequences of a failed business venture in any way have an impact on local schools and the education of local students then I would say probably not.
Of course there are also a few benefits to the proposal.
Creating and upholding a good relationship with China is great. Not only will it benefit the business, but also the students in both countries.
Forming an international relationship will open up a world of opportunities that never existed before.
Student exchanges to China, teachers discussing new ways of teaching and learning with their international counterparts, cultural exchanges between schools and towns, increased tourism and new friendships are just a few of the opportunities that will be created if the school district moves ahead with their business plan.
There is also the potential for local businesses to get involved as spin off opportunities arise.
The tales of woe and failure of other school district businesses presented by a Fort St. James councillor are troubling for sure, but as Ray LeMoigne, superintendent of schools for School District 91 says, they did not actively seek a business …. the opportunity came to them and they followed up on it.
That has got to be the best start to any business. A business opportunity that asks you to be part of it.
I think it is probably a tall order to ask municipalities to give up some of their borrowing power over a five year time span, but I think if municipalities are willing to consider the possibilities of the business plan, they may benefit more in the long run. I think they should ask themselves if they have needed to borrow the funds themselves over the last five years …. if the answer is no, then perhaps it is money that won’t really be missed.
The relationship between B.C. and China seems to be growing on all fronts.
The forest industry is now reaping the rewards of the new found friendship, surpassing U.S. timber exports recently.
It would seem that making friends with China, who has the worlds fast growing economy and is the second largest importer in the world may be a very wise move.