The School District No. 46 (SD46) board adopted its 2013/14 annual budget at Tuesday’s board meeting.
Trustees gave three readings to the amended budget of $42,136,953 after receiving a report from secretary treasurer Nicholas Weswick. The report was first presented to the operations committee in late January and they recommended the board approve the budget.
Weswick reported that the budget revisions were based on the Ministry of Education’s interim funding report and accounted for a net change of $561,141. He said that a significant amount of those funds are targeted to level two special needs students. Changes to school allocation rates were also reviewed in addition to changes to the operating budget.
Student trustee Maya Treuheit reported a recent successful trip to Ottawa for a meeting with the Ontario Student Trustees Association.
This was the second trip back east to conferences for Treuheit since she was sworn in as a student trustee last November.
She said that she is amazed at just how much she has learned in such a short period of time.
“I’ve never been among a group of people for so little time and learned so much,” she said. “I have the power to make a difference which in turn means that students can make a difference.”
And SD46’s student trustee model is gaining the attention of other school districts in B.C. and Alberta.
Board chair Betty Baxter pointed out through the superintendent’s report that information has been shared with SD54 (Bulkley Valley), SD82 (Coast Mountains) and the Red Deer Public School District.
Chatelech Secondary School vice principal Richard Biel provided trustees with an update on a successful student vocational program recently completed.
Chatelech partnered with the Sechelt Indian Band, Salish Soils and Trauma Tech for a successful student program, which ran from November 2013 to January of this year.
“At the end of the first term we had a number of students who were struggling with their studies and were simply off-track,” Biel said. “We put our heads together and came up with this program. One student soon turned into eight and we came up with a hands-on program to provide an alternative to the mainstream programs at the school.”
Students received work experience and earned academic credits through the program, Biel said.
“Some of these students were looking at receiving no credits at all,” Biel said. “The key for us was to provide the students with something pragmatic, something that could allow these students to be employable right after the program. They all gained valuable work experience, relationships and references and 16 credits towards graduation. They also remained Chatelech students and were still very much a part of the school community, which was very important to them.”
Biel said it was a fantastic program and one they will be continuing with.
“I feel lucky to have worked with so many people to pull this together and provide a different opportunity for our students to get an education,” he said.
SD46 trustees spent a lot of time visiting schools and seeing students and teachers in action recently.
In January and early February, trustees conducted four days of school visits. Several trustees commented Tuesday night on how valuable the experience was and the need to look at more visits throughout the year.
“We got a chance to see the schools in action, which I really appreciated,” said trustee Christine Younghusband. “We really can see how diverse our district is. I’d like to spend more time in these schools, if possible.”
Treuheit said students were impressed that the trustees were so engaged in the process.
“I think it’s difficult to get a read on what students want when you only visit once,” she said. “It’s important for students to know and see that you are all interested in what they are doing.”