Monday August 29, 2022 | VICTORIA, BC [Updated 12:45 pm]
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
The BC Provincial government says it is helping make back-to-school more affordable for students and their families who are struggling with rising costs of living due to global inflation.
Through the Student and Family Affordability Fund, $60 million will be distributed amongst the 60 school districts make sure students are fed and have the school supplies they need to be successful this year.
Every school district will receive — for the start of the 2022-2023 school year — a minimum of $250,000 so that every school “has enough… to do something substantial”, said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education and Child Care, during a press conference today held at the Maywood Community school in Burnaby.
The $250,000 “floor” is to ensure that rural and remote schools are also benefiting as much as possible, said Whiteside today. The aim is for funding to be “enough” to make a “substantial difference”.
Proportionately, that means smaller school districts will receive more funding per student.
Whiteside said that she expects school districts will consult with local First Nations, PAC’s and school community to determine how best to utilize the funds.
The start of something more:
This announcement is part of a number of measures that the Minister of Finance will announce next week to help those hardest hit during this time of high global inflation.
According to Whiteside, a 2021 analysis found that one in six families are experiencing “food insecurity at home”.
The media session today was also attended by Katrina Chen, MLA for Burnaby-Lougheed, and Raj Chouhan, MLA for Burnaby-Edmonds. Chen reiterated the BC government stance that “public education is the foundation of our society”.
Into general revenues, reporting required:
While the Ministry announcement emphasized that the one-time funding will be “provided directly to school districts to help them expand school meal programs, make sure students have the school supplies they need and cover any additional fees so that students in need can take part in activities, such as field trips”, the funds can be used at the discretion of each school district.
The Student and Family Affordability Fund monies can be used for supporting or scaling up existing school programs as well as starting new ones. The approach is based on school districts knowing their own schools and communities best, i.e. local decision-making about use of the funds, not dictated from the Ministry level.
The funds will be going into the general revenue budgets of each school district. Whiteside said that school districts will be required to report back on this fund so that the Ministry will know how the fund is being utilized.
She said that a similar process was applied with the additional COVID-impact support funding issued to school districts during the pandemic.
Impact of inflation:
“Many families in B.C. are feeling the effects of global inflation on daily costs, including groceries, school supplies and other school expenses,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education and Child Care. “We’re taking action by providing more funding that school districts will use to help meet the needs of families and students.”
Districts will work with with parent advisory councils and school communities, as well as local First Nations and other Indigenous organizations, regarding local priorities that will best meet the needs of diverse student populations.
In addition to the $60 million for school districts, $3.8 million will be provided through the Federation of Independent School Associations (FISA) to support families struggling with increasing costs and that access education through independent school authorities.
The funding is the first step in government’s commitment to make sure students are properly fed for learning and to work with school districts to support the expansion of food and meal programs. It builds on $55 million in annual funding provided to districts through the Ministry of Education and Child Care’s CommunityLINK initiative, which funds breakfast, lunch and snack programs, academic supports, counselling, youth workers and after-school programs.
Stats from the Ministry of Education and Child Care:
- Government is investing $7.4 billion in K-12 education in 2022-23, which is $1.8 billion more than in 2016-17.
- Budget 2022 provides $250 million more funding for public schools than Budget 2021, and with the one-time $60 million provided through the Student and Family Affordability Fund, this increases to $310 million for public schools.
- Through the Student and Family Affordability Fund, every school district will receive a minimum of $250,000
- $3.8 million will be provided to private schools through the Federation of Independent School Associations (FISA)
Back to school: Health & Education ministries promoting vaccination (August 27, 2022)
Mary P Brooke is running for SD62 school trustee (August 24, 2022)
Delay in opening new SD62 middle school in Sept 2022 (August 10, 2022)
===== ABOUT THE WRITER:
Island Social Trends Editor Mary P Brooke, B.Sc., Cert PR, has been reporting on SD62 news at the board and committee level since 2014.
Ms Brooke has steered a series of publications about the west shore since 2008: MapleLine Magazine 2008-2010, Sooke Voice News 2011-2013, West Shore Voice News 2014-2020, and now Island Social Trends since mid-2020.
Mary is the mother of four now-adult children who attended schools in SD61, SD62 and SD72 over the years.
See the Island Social Trends SD62 News Archive for articles going back several years.