Concerns about community school funding changes have subsided this week after School District No. 46 (SD46) consulted more with community school co-ordinators and local governments about the funding formula alteration.
“I have talked with community school co-ordinators and submitted to them a draft version of how the funding would look by basing it on a school by school model,” superintendent of schools Patrick Bocking told Coast Reporter this week. “The input I have received from those who have responded has been positive and they are looking forward to working together.”
Chatelech/Sechelt Community School co-ordinator Heather Gordon agreed that co-ordinators are now seeing how the funding change can work; however, Gordon said they still worry about how regional programs will be funded.
“The piece we haven’t sorted out yet is what we are going to do about the programs that are run regionally by those community schools that do regional programs because the funding is allocated on a per school, serving that school model,” Gordon said, adding she expects those details to be worked out soon.
SD46 is changing how it distributes the $235,000 in Community Learning Includes Nutrition and Knowledge (LINK) funding it receives each year. Currently five community schools get $47,000 each, but the change will see each school get around $20,000 to address needs of their vulnerable students.
Bocking said the change was necessary because some schools were being left out.
“We were not meeting the needs of our schools and this is a district fund, so we certainly had to have that accountability for those funds to address the needs of vulnerable students,” he said.
The Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) expressed concern when the change was first announced, asking for a meeting with SD46. Recently members of SD46 met with SCRD board chair Garry Nohr and staff from the SCRD to have a conversation that calmed the board’s fears.
“Basically they’re doing things that keep them within the legal requirements, so not much could be changed that way, but what we were concerned about was that we thought community schools were being dropped, and that was not so,” Nohr said. “There’s a three year commitment to see how this works.”
He said the SCRD’s yearly allocation of money to community schools won’t be affected by the change and Bocking explained that is because all money goes directly to the community school boards to be distributed how they see fit. It’s not up to the school district.
“They [the SCRD] send money to community schools, we send money to community schools and that’s where the discussion happens. It’s not us at all,” Bocking said.
While the change distributes the Community LINK funding equally, it also groups schools to make sure all are serviced by a community school board. Those boards will then discuss the use of any funds with principals before decisions are made.