Less than a week after the Hornby Island Community School succumbed to extensive damage following a fire, residents are coming together to support not only students, but the community as a whole.
The non-profit Hornby Island Education Society (HIES), which supports lifelong learning for all community members, started a School Renewal Fund to assist with financial gaps – both in the short and long term.
“The school was a community school; it was used a bit as a community centre,” explained Daniel Arbour, treasurer of HIES.
Arbour explained up until the fire, the gym at the school was used by the entire community, and the building also housed a natural history centre.
During the early morning of Aug. 26, a fire broke out at the school and destroyed the gym and office area. Hornby Island fire chief Doug Chinnery said the back two-thirds of the building suffered serious smoke damage.
While the school building was insured, Arbour noted it will take time for the school district and province to apply their financial resources, and added some of the funds will be used in the short-term to support education programs and transition activities.
There is no monetary goal for the fund, however, Arbour said there are two avenues the money would be directed towards.
“The immediate goal is to put a few dollars out; long-term, the silver lining is that we know the school district and province will be supportive. We went from 150 students to 46, but we’ve been as low as 30 students a few years ago. Right now we’re trending up, and (when looking at schools), they look at trends.
“We’re going to have a dialogue and we could see some major capital funds. It would be nice to have a seed pot (from the renewal fund) in order to apply for grants.”
School District 71, HIES and the Parent Advisory Committee will collaborate to prioritize disbursements from the fund.
“If we want to see our community with a great school, we need financial resources, and we want to be very proactive.”
He noted while the fund is just a few days old, donations have been coming through from organizations and individuals such as the Hornby Island trade tokens project.
According to a release from SD71, students enrolled at the Hornby Island Community school will receive a three-day program based out of Tribune Bay Outdoor Education Centre beginning Sept. 4.
The release noted the fire left the school inoperable and unsafe to carry out classroom instructions, and a temporary location for delivery of educational programs is currently being discussed and a plan created.
Long-term solutions for replacing or repairing the community school are still uncertain and dependent upon the status of the current facility.
Results from the investigation, as well a report on damages sustained will be released once they are made available.
Arbour added the next step in the fundraising campaign is to create a crowdfunding page; meanwhile donations are accepted via cheque or e-transfer. HIES is a registered charity and can provide donation receipts for any amounts above $50.
For more information or to donate, visit hornbyeducation.com/school-renewal-fund/