Tamara CunninghamBlack Press
Nanaimo school district will funnel nearly $600,000 into supplies and support for schools, including more education assistants, with money returned from the B.C. government.
The B.C. Ministry of Education announced in May it will send $25 million in administrative savings back to school districts to use any way they see fit. Education Minister Mike Bernier said from busing, new teachers, new schools programs, “even keeping a school open,” it will allow school districts to make those decisions.
Nanaimo school district gets $593,079, and last week, district superintendent John Blain reported to the board of education’s business committee on how the money would be distributed. Approximately half, or $297,697, will be for additional education assistants and classroom support, while $60,000 will go into an account to pay for incidentals schools normally pay for themselves, such as moving white boards. Another $235,400 will go directly to schools to “further support curriculum, assessment and reporting.”
Blain said this is the first time the district has had money like this to release out to classrooms in an increase. It’s also seen increased funding in its budget, with student enrolment numbers higher than forecasted.
“This is different for us to be in this position, which is where we wanted to be two years ago when we started the whole process about becoming sustainable,” he said, adding that the base budget can now handle emergent issues which frees up money like this for supportive areas the district feels needs help. “We’re in a shape where it’s exciting for us to be able to shift monies straight into the classroom at this time of year, because we so strongly believe that we want to do everything we can to enhance learning in classrooms.”
The distribution will see the largest share go to education assistants and classroom support. Blain said the district knows, through discussions with the teachers’ union, support staff and classroom teachers, it would be more helpful for additional EA support for “grey-area students,” those who don’t meet ministry guidelines for extra support but struggle and would benefit from it.
A large portion will also go to schools to support curriculum, assessment and reporting. Blain said there’s a new curriculum and no money from the ministry to support it in lesson aids. More than $200,000 will be sent to schools in a supply account and principals and staff will decide how to spend it.
“We’ve increased that account for the next year, so that they have extra money to spend in the classroom, aids and textbooks and initiatives, whatever they want,” Blain said.