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Public division unlikely to pay bill for street project in Avonlea

At the May board meeting, trustees instructed administration to write a letter to the village explaining its position
File photo

It’s unlikely Prairie South School Division will pay an outstanding bill to the Village of Avonlea since board trustees believe its money should fix schools and not municipal roads.

The village sent the school division a letter in March demanding that it pay its portion of a local improvement levy since the municipality paved a road near the school in that community. In April the board of education instructed division administration to look into this problem. At the May board meeting, trustees instructed administration to write a letter to the village explaining its position.

The division did not publish the letter with the rest of the public board documents for May’s meeting, while education director Tony Baldwin declined to issue a copy to the media when asked, saying the village needs to see it first. However, it is possible to strain out the content of the letter based on comments PSSD trustees made during their meeting.

Board discussion

“This is a sensitive item,” said trustee Shawn Davidson. “Clearly, the board feels the use of our limited funds for facility projects and operating the school division (are) not appropriately allocated. Our money is for our schools and not streets. We need to communicate that position to the Village of Avonlea.”

After hearing more about the situation, trustee Lew Young thought the board should continue along the path on which it initially started for this issue and stand firm about its priorities. He pointed out this is a problem that occurred because the Ministry of Education took away school divisions’ abilities to levy taxes.

“At some point, we are going to see school boards get caught in this position because of something that took place many, many years ago,” he continued, “and the Is were not dotted and the Ts were not crossed.”

Young added that the only way to get out of this problem is to continue to have discussions with the village and the ministry, while the ministry and provincial government will have to clarify this issue in the future and have it rectified.

The next PSSD board meeting is Tuesday, June 2.