Lake Country school trustee Deb Butler says school district should take more time on catchment issue

Under fire from The Lakes for comments about Oyama Traditional School, Deb Butler says school district needed better plan

Lake Country school trustee Deb Butler at Davidson Road

Lake Country school trustee Deb Butler at Davidson Road

Lake Country school trustee Deb Butler says she hasn’t decided whether she will vote on a final recommendation to change the catchment areas for Lake Country’s three elementary schools or to recuse herself from the discussion entirely.

Butler, in her second term on school board, came under fire from residents living in one Lake Country neighborhood this week, when she came to the defense of Oyama Traditional School, saying the school could be in danger of closing long term, if a better solution can’t be found than the current recommendation in front of the school board.

One of those alternate options was to have students living in the Lakes subdivision attend Oyama.

“I’m getting a lot of flak from people that think I am not representing the whole community,” said Butler. “As much as I have been very vocal about Oyama, I think I am representing Lake Country. I still have concerns whether we are doing the right thing but I’ve certainly been made aware that the Lakes is maybe not the best fit for Oyama.”

Since a final recommendation became public last week, laying out the different options available to change the catchment areas in Lake Country, trustees have been flooded with emails and phone calls from people living in the Lakes, one of the newest subdivisions in Lake Country.

The majority of residents who spoke at the committee meeting were from the Lakes.

Butler, who is not a member of the committee, attended the meeting and provided a written statement explaining her thoughts on the issues.

“What I’m happy about is that people showed up and got to have their say because that’s what I expected to happen (at the earlier public consultation),” she said. “But the community didn’t have the information available to them. We didn’t do a really good job of consultation. We met with the schools to get their suggestions but we didn’t have any kind of proposed plan.”

Butler said she has been accused of a conflict of interest due to the fact she lives in Oyama and admits she may have made a mistake in the way she handled the situation by saying the Oyama school could be in trouble long term if the current recommendation goes ahead.

“It’s been pretty tough, I’ve taken a lot of hits, but only from one area of the community,” she said. “Everybody is entitled to their opinion. I think it’s important they have an opinion. In the end all you can do is look at what you did and move forward in a better way.”

The full school board will vote on a recommendation that would send students from the Southwest area of Lake Country to Peter Greer with Woodsdale Road students going to Oyama. Students from the Lakes would remain in Davidson Road’s catchment area.

The issue will be in front of the school board on Feb. 11.