At the Nov. 13 School District No. 46 (SD46) board meeting trustees accepted a plan to disperse $380,446 in learning improvement funds (LIF) to help support vulnerable learners in Coast schools.
The money is part of a three-year LIF commitment from the Ministry of Education. Assistant superintendent of schools Greg Kitchen explained the money was divided up based on needs identified by principals this year.
"So some schools got additional teaching time and some did not because they had a different need or challenge at their school," Kitchen said. "So it varied on what the needs and the challenges were."
SD46's LIF fund now sits at $46,880, but Kitchen expects the small reserve to be used up shortly.
"When the LIF rules were given to us it was suggested that we hold some reserve, up to 30 per cent, to deal with emergent issues, and we may have movement in the months to come," Kitchen said. "I would suspect that shortly past Christmas break most of that is going to be gone."
Trustees moved to have administrators implement an outdoor environmental education model that includes partnership with community agencies and businesses.
Trustee Christine Young-husband brought the recommendation forward from the education committee, saying studies and work to create a program have happened in the past, but the information never went anywhere.
Other school districts like Powell River currently offer outdoor education and Younghusband said the Coast lends itself to a similar program.
As to exactly what the program would look like, the recommendation was vague.
"It has to be vague because we don't really know what it looks like, but we know that there's something that could happen. We need to model learning, we need to model exploration and risk taking and, you know what, we have to learn from our mistakes and that's how things get better," she said. "So I just feel like this is a great opportunity that's very tangible and visible. We have a lot of kids who don't learn in rows that well, who want to get out there."
Trustee Greg Russell was concerned about the word "implement" in the motion, asking for it to instead read "direct staff to develop." His suggestion didn't change the motion and when the vote was called, all but Russell were in favour.
The final numbers are in and the actual enrollment in Coast schools is slightly higher than what was first predicted.
Secretary treasurer Nicholas Weswick reported that the actual number of students enrolled for the 2012/13 school year is 3,087, up from the projected 3,074.
Weswick reported that conversations about overcrowding at West Sechelt Elementary School have begun at the staff and parent level.
A number of different suggestions have been brought forward, including the option to make West Sechelt a K-5 school, moving grades 6 and 7 to Kinnikinnick Elementary School.
Weswick said the public will have a chance to get in on the conversation, likely in the new year. He also said SD46 doesn't want to make any changes until September 2014, in order to give the District time to create a plan and prepare.
Trustees moved to investigate becoming a partner with We Day and Free the Children after a presentation from trustee Lori Pratt talked about the positive effect the event had on Coast students recently.
We Day is an event that brings together thousands of students in an effort to inspire and challenge them to change the world for the better.
"It's a great thing and I'd really like to see our District become an educational partner with Free the Children and We Day. I said investigate though because I wasn't sure financially and resource-wise what it would mean for us," Pratt said.
All were in favour of the motion.
© Coast Reporter