By Dean Midyette

Pioneer Staff

As most of us in the valley know, our population grows considerably during the times that families from Alberta choose to visit. At peak season our population can swell from approximately 8,000 to well over 25,000.

Its during these busy times that our local businesses rely on our students. While getting a great work experience and earning some money for themselves, they also support businesses by making themselves available for extra shifts during the holidays. Our businesses rely on casual student labour to be fully staffed during the peak holiday times.

As an example, my son holds down a part time job at a local restaurant. During the school year he works one to two shifts per week. During the most recent Christmas break he logged a 32 hour work week. The restaurant was busy and he was extremely happy with his pay cheque.

Our business community is incredibly supportive of our students. In addition to providing an opportunity to earn some money, they provide training and experience which helps our youth grow into responsible adults familiar with the expectations in a workplace.

Many of our businesses invite students with special needs to get much needed work experience. The business communitys support is most evident at the annual graduation ceremonies where tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships and bursaries are awarded to our students to assist them with their post-secondary studies. Support is a two way street and the local school board has made a horrible mistake. While our students will be enjoying their Christmas break from December 16th through January 1st, families in Alberta will be visiting from December 22nd through January 7th.

This will leave local business that rely on the availability of their student employees extremely short handed during one of the busiest weeks of the winter.

Like all elected officials, school boards are entrusted to make decisions that support their community. In this instance they have failed miserably.