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PAC funding per student cut in half



Computers, playground equipment, library books, desks, paper, and art supplies.

Those are just some of the things schools across the Sea to Sky corridor may have to forgo, now that the British Columbia government is clawing back on their Direct Access gaming grants - from $20 per student to $10 per student.

Cathy Jewett, chair of the District Parent Advisory Council for the Sea to Sky School District, said since the school year just started, most Parent Advisory Councils (PACs) haven't had a chance to discuss how the cuts are going to affect operations.

But local PACs should have a better idea of their financial health by October.

"A lot of school districts are going to be facing financial hardship," said Jewett. "Whereas the government has rescinded its legislation to say they cannot run a deficit, what is going to happen to school boards that are legislated not to run a deficit?"

Until the PACs meet in October, the Sea to Sky's District PAC is encouraging people to write letters to the provincial government with their concerns.

At the very least, the cuts mean schools in the Sea to Sky will have to be more careful with their resources, said Jewett.

"One of the examples is if you took a sewing class, you would sew up the projects and then, at the end of it, instead of taking home your project, you would cut the seams and leave it for the next class," said Jewett.

"Or it means that for a cooking class... instead of maybe students in groups of four making a cake, the whole class has to make a cake."

School districts have been receiving similar financial blows for a number of years now, said Jewett, adding that the District PAC's funding also dropped from $2,500 to $1,250.

Recently, school districts lost their ability to charge school fees, and the province's change to the way students were counted also decreased funding.

"What we are seeing is an incredible downloading onto the school districts," said Jewett. "If there is no money, and they deliver these blows just as school is starting, some schools have to cut, and they are going to cut meat."

As a result of these changes, school districts are relying more than ever on fundraising campaigns. But Jewett cautioned that fundraising could cause significant discrepancies across schools.

"When we depend on fundraising to supply our schools, then we create advantaged and disadvantaged students, and public education is meant to be equal access," said Jewett.  "Stawamus Elementary is a small school, and they may not have the ability to fundraise as well as Garibaldi Highlands Elementary, which is the biggest elementary school in the district and is also relatively affluent."



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