Nanaimo school district has proposed more than $4 million in budget initiatives for next year. FILE PHOTO

School district changes mind, won’t cut community school coordinators

Budget initiatives proposed for next school year

Nanaimo’s community school coordinators are off the chopping block next year.

Nanaimo-Ladysmith Public Schools, which originally proposed cutting all but one community school coordinator from next year’s budget, is now suggesting a one-year transition.

School district staff have presented more than $4 million in initiatives for next year, including seven additional child, youth and family support workers and expanding “focus schools” from four to 12, with supports like a half-time literacy coordinator and full-time principals to help children with literacy.

Initially there were also cuts to four community school coordinators, which help with special events and community programs, while a fifth was slated to become a grant writer for the district.

The move was considered part of a redesign of how the district uses its Community Link funding, which the province provides to help vulnerable students. The coordinators’ hours would instead go to child care workers, according to superintendent John Blain, who noted some of the coordinators’ program initiatives “may go,” unless outside agencies handle them.

A new plan was pitched April 11 after district staff heard cuts seemed rushed and a transition was needed.

“We are suggesting that for one year we go to contingency to maintain the other four [community school coordinator] positions as they are and we walk through the year and create an analysis … .as to how we’re doing in both areas, the focus school model and how that is working itself through with the community school coordinators,” said Blain, adding if the board chooses to maintain the positions it can move them back into the budget or make a different decision. “It gives everyone an opportunity to take a breath, have a look at where we’re at and what the next steps are.”

Blain said there would be role changes for the coordinators, which they are aware of, but did not elaborate on what those would be. One coordinator will still be covered by Community Link money as a grant writer.

Trustee Stephanie Higginson said she’s happy to see at least the transition there.

“It’s interesting in all the years we’ve been doing this, I don’t think I’ve had as much input from the community on a position being cut as I got feedback on our community school coordinators, which shows how important they are to the community and engaging students,” she said.

Committee chairman Scott Kimler and trustee Tania Brzovic both said they lost sleep over the news of cuts.

“I am seriously a huge, huge believer in community schools. I worked for a year at Georgia Avenue school as a sort of link between the main school and community schools so I do know what they can do and the value they bring,” said Brzovic, who told staff there’s obviously work they have to do on their own, but they’d be wise to create an opportunity for input from those who believe in community schools.

Kimler said he’s “very relieved” to see the positions and people will be kept and schools will benefit from them, though he also said he wrestled with the fact that he doesn’t know what the coordinators or child and youth family support workers do and recommended trustees hear more about the positions and learn from them over the next year.

Committee members recommended the board approve the operating budget in principle on the basis that about $4.3 million in budget initiatives are included and no substantive changes are made unless added or eliminated by the board.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Nanaimo RCMP seek suspect after armed robbery of gas station

Alleged incident occurred Sunday night at Uplands Drive and Turner Road

Nanaimo man dies in rollover crash in Brechin Hill area

Medical emergency suspected in incident Saturday on Poplar Street

Tonight’s Nanaimo byelection debate intended to inform ‘young professionals’

B.C. Liberals, NDP and Green candidates to participate in Forum for Millennial Leadership debate

Nanaimo school trustees will vote on pay increase

School district business committee recommends raise to offset new tax laws

Truck convoy honouring Nanaimo boy who died after being struck by vehicle

Trucks left from Victoria and others joined along the way up the Island

2-for-1: Total lunar eclipse comes with supermoon bonus

On Sunday night, the moon, Earth and sun lined up to create the eclipse, which was visible throughout North and South America

B.C. man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

Parole granted for drunk driver that killed BC RCMP officer

Kenneth Jacob Fenton will be able to attend alcohol abuse treatment, nearly three years after crash that killed Const. Sarah Beckett

MARS seeing influx of sick, injured eagles from north part of Vancouver Island

Factors for increase in eagle cases can be anything from lead poisoning to vehicle strikes

Doug Ford says the Liberals’ carbon tax will plunge Canada into recession

The Ontario premier said there are already warning signs of difficult economic times ahead

Kamala Harris opens U.S. presidential bid in challenge to Trump

The 54-year old portrayed herself as a fighter for justice, decency and equality in a video distributed by her campaign

B.C.’s largest public-sector union wants inquiry into money laundering, drugs

Union officials say Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby have not ruled out the possibility of a public inquiry

Vancouver Island career fair will help serve a job-seekers’ market

Black Press Media Extreme Education and Career Fair slated for Feb. 7 in Comox Valley

12 poisoned eagles found in Cowichan Valley

Improper disposal of euthanized animal suspected

Most Read