School District 20 funding cuts in Blueberry and Robson could be worse

Most community programs in Castlegar and Robson likely to survive.

The Butterflies and Berries projects at Blueberry Community School (not necessarily funded by SD 20

Cuts to the 2013-2014 budgets of local community schools aren’t good but are also not as bad as they could have been.

“They had a special open board meeting on June 26, “ said Alana Medeiros, Blueberry Creek community school coordinator. “After some discussion they reduced our funding by $5,000. We are still able to run most of the programming but we’re going to have to re-evaluate next year.

“Our four major programs are the summer reading program, the Friday night youth program, the Blueberry patch summer day camp program and 360 Twin Rivers.”

Increased enrollment in addition to the budget squeeze is also making things more difficult.

“We have 105 kids in our summer reading club,” said Medeiros. “There are lots of people in and out of here. People just don’t have anywhere else to take their kids and they want to keep the kids’ reading levels up and social interactions intact over the summer months.”

These four core programs and other smaller partnerships will all need to be looked at in the coming months with the announcement that next year, less funding will be available from the school district.

For the 2012-2013 year, Blueberry received $25,000 for community programs. CBAL received the same amount, while Robson received $50,000.

“With that money, we leveraged $72,000 this year because it doesn’t only cost $25,000 to run those programs,” said Medeiros. “We use the money they give us as seed money and apply for other funding.”

The situation is similar at Robson community school.

“I haven’t had the opportunity to crunch any numbers yet but at least it gives us a year to look at it,” said Lori Watson, community school coordinator.

“Which is a much better decision then taking it absolutely all away and leaving parents high and dry as far as things they were anticipating for next year, such as the after-school program.

“During the summer we have summer camps in partnership with Castlegar and District Recreation. We offer seven weeks; for the first two weeks, the camps are at Robson, then they move downtown and the final four weeks are at the complex.”

Watson said things would definitely look different if the funding was to have disappeared altogether.

“All the camp programs would all be put on one person, Audrey Polovnikoff at the complex, who would have to do it all on her own in lining up the sites, etc.”

Watson said part of the discussion at the meeting was the importance of keeping communication lines open, so that funding isn’t cut without notice.

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