Letters to the Editor

Isitt has wrong idea on independent schools

Re: Tax break irks neighbours (News, May 4)

I read with interest your story on Glenlyon Norfolk School. Of note was the view of some people, including Coun. Ben Isitt, that the school should not be exempt from paying property tax, because it’s an elite institution that caters to the wealthy and doesn’t contribute to the public good.

I taught at GNS for 14 years and saw the school from the inside. Here’s what I can report:

– Many students are from the middle class, where both parents work at regular jobs and pay taxes like the rest of us.

Some are there only because of bursaries that help them attend.

– GNS hosts numerous events that benefit public school students – everything from band festivals and sports events to an annual youth conference that has welcomed speakers such as Stephen Lewis and Rick Hansen.

– GNS students volunteer in hospitals, retirement homes and at other community facilities and functions. Some even volunteer on international development projects.

– The school’s community regularly raises funds for a variety of public causes.

– When they graduate, GNS students, like their counterparts in the public system, often become valuable contributing members of society. Notable graduates include filmmaker Atom Egoyan and internationally acclaimed scholar Thomas Homer-Dixon.

And finally a point about finances: if GNS didn’t exist and the 700 students who attend were in the public schools, taxpayers would have to foot the entire bill for their education. Right now they pay only a portion. That’s a good deal for taxpayers and for the province.

I encourage Coun. Isitt and others to meet some GNS students and their parents and find out what they are really like.

Say hi to the teachers, too, they’re a hardworking bunch.

Rick Gibbs

Victoria

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