Community school cuts would hurt most vulnerable students

For the past 15 years, I have had the pleasure of being the co-ordinator at Robson Community School. In this capacity, it has been one of my responsibilities to sit on a number of different committees, one of those being the school district’s “Opening Doors” committee.

For the past 15 years, I have had the pleasure of being the co-ordinator at Robson Community School. In this capacity, it has been one of my responsibilities to sit on a number of different committees, one of those being the school district’s “Opening Doors” committee.

The purpose of this committee is “For SD20 to partner with community members and support district and community-wide early childhood, K-12, Aboriginal and adult literacy programs.” One of the terms of reference is “to review annually and discuss community school initiatives and CommunityLINK funding for SD20”.

This has always happened in the past. One year, when the former director of student support suggested  there might be cuts to community school funding, parents and community were given an opportunity for input. Another year, the discussion revolved around how to support the south end of the district in developing community school programming for their families. As a result of this collaborative discussion, the $150,000 community school funding was split three ways instead of two.

Now, the $50,000 that each of the three community schools receives has been cut in half with absolutely no consultation or opportunity for input. This reduction in each community school budget to $25,000 will directly affect programs and co-ordination, programs such as: Robson’s After School Program, Homework Help, Boys’ Time, Girls’ Night Out, Morning and After School Cooking Classes, After School Art, Blueberry and Robson Summer Camps,  Glenmerry and Warfield Afterschool Clubs, Twin River’s 360° Leadership Program, Roots of Empathy, Parents as Literacy Supporters, One to One Children’s Reading, ESL Homework Club, Camp Kaleidoscope and Summer Reading Programs. Many of these programs benefit our most vulnerable students.

The suggestion is out there that one co-ordinator can be hired to deliver all of these programs for the entire district. District co-ordination of community programming is not a “community school.”  A community school is not a “program.” A community school is about being present in the community, building relationships with families, staff, community members and partner groups. The strength of these relationships is what will have the biggest impact on our children.

Community schools have been an integral part of the educational landscape of School District 20 for more than a decade. A decision regarding CommunityLink funding will be made at the board meeting held on Monday June 27, 7 p.m. at Trail Middle School. I ask that the trustees take into consideration the impact of this decision on our families and communities and in particular our most vulnerable students.

 

Laurie Watson

Co-ordinator, Robson Community School