By Marvin Beatty – Castlegar News
Cuts to the 2013-2014 budgets of the region’s community schools aren’t good but are also not as bad as it could have been.
In a special open board meeting on June 26, School District 20 trustees discussed reducing Blueberry Creek Community School’s funding by $5,000.
School coordinator Alana Medeiros said the school will still be able to run most of its programming but will have to re-evaluate next year.
The school runs four major programs, including the summer reading program, the Friday night youth program, the Blueberry patch summer day camp program and 360 Twin Rivers.
Increased enrolment 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.”
The four core programs and other smaller partnerships will all need to be looked at in the coming months, she noted, 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 the school runs summer camps in partnership with Castlegar and District Recreation. They offer seven weeks, with the first two weeks in Robson, then the final four weeks are at the Complex in Castlegar.
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.