MLA warns of non-domestic student fees; SD5 confused
Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka (BC Liberals) is calling on the Ministry of Education to stop penalizing school districts that waive non-domestic student fees for Western Hockey League (WHL) players.
“Currently, the Southeast Kootenay School District is considering a fee for out-of-province students,” Shypitka stated in a Dec. 19 media release. “This sets a dangerous precedent that has potential wide-ranging and long-lasting implications for hockey in our province. While this is a school board decision, the ministry still has their part to play. Their silence on this matter really demonstrates a lack of support for our young athletes.”
The Ministry of Education is eliminating WHL players from the roll that they have funded in the past, he said.
As a result, School District No. 5 (SD5/Southeast Kootenay) is now planning to implement a student fee for the Kootenay ICE WHL players from outside of B.C. who attend Mt. Baker Secondary School in Cranbrook, MLA Shypitka’s release outlined.
SD5 School Board of Trustees chair Frank Lento told e-KNOW he has no idea where Shypitka received his information but it didn’t come from the school district or board.
“Absolutely not. Nothing could be further from the truth. We’ve always taken great pride in providing education programs for ICE players. Everything they’ve needed we’ve provided and will continue to do so,” Lento said, adding he was “shocked” to read MLA Shypitka’s media release.
“I thought, did I miss a meeting here in the last 10 years?”
Lento, a member of the BC Hockey Hall of Fame (builder category), past chair of Hockey Canada and Ice Hockey Chair of the 2010 Olympic Bid Committee, said he believes SD5 has done all it can to help the ICE and Western Hockey League.
“Education is how the community gives back to the ICE. We’ve been doing it in spades,” he said.
Lento said he understands any provincial policy that would deem non-domestic student fees necessary, noting, “The school facilities and our budgets are paid for by the B.C. taxpayers.”
However, “we can accommodate” small needs, such as what would be required to provide schooling for a few WHL athletes, he added.
School districts in Victoria, Vancouver, Kelowna, Kamloops, and Prince George may have to make similar decisions following the ministry’s decision, Shypitka noted.
Up until this point, WHL players have attended B.C. schools for over half a century without additional tuition fees, his media release concluded.