Chemainus community schools funding safe

Program not as threatened as some initially feared

Community school operations in Chemainus and Crofton are safe.

And school trustees are wondering why anyone thought otherwise.

A group of concerned Chemainus and Crofton parents descended on the Cowichan Valley School District board room May 5, prepared to defend their community school program against the possibility of cuts.

But before they even had a chance to speak ,school board Chairwoman Candace Spilsbury squashed their concerns.

“There seems to be some questions in your minds about your funding next year and I just want to be clear that the board has made no change to the funding from this year to next year. Just so you know,” she said.

The Chemainus/Crofton concerns were articulated in what apparently was an unnecessary letter from the community schools association.

“Potential cuts to the funding that has been generously been provided by SD79 in the past would mean an end to our community school as we know it. Without funding our community and our student body would be at a great loss to continue to provide services to our students in an area where services are very limited,” it stated.

“The impact our Community School has made on our students is felt by so many children and families.”

The group explained many community programs run out of Chemainus Elementary Community School provide a community centre to an area that doesn’t have one and provide a safety net  for a population that includes “a larger than average number of vulnerable children.”

With judicious use of grants, the association has been able to boost its available money considerably, offering more than 40 activities, including both feeding and recreational programs.

Superintendent Joe Rhodes said the concern likely arose through a conversation he’d had last fall with community school coordinator Wendy Lambert to discuss the Community Links funding.

That program partially pays for the Lambert’s position, but also funds food programming, an area in increasing need of support across the district. There had been concern the money might need to be shifted to help in-school nutrition programs.

“When we went through [preparing the budget] the decision was to sustain the funding,” he said. “But it is a year by year process and as pressures change so they get revisited again.”