Clearwater schools face budget challenges

Clearwater Secondary School could lose one teaching position next September

Clearwater Secondary School could lose one teaching position next September due to declining enrolment, according to school trustee Shelley Sim.

Sim made the comment during a public input session on the School District 73 budget held Tuesday evening, April 21.

The session was held simultaneously by video-conference in Clearwater, Barriere, Kamloops, Chase and Logan Lake.

Over a dozen people attended the session in Clearwater Secondary School.

Across the school district, a total of 14 full-time equivalent staff could be lose their jobs when the new school year begins.

Sim said that the school district has been understanding of the rural situation but, with funding based so much on the number of students, she still feels the need to put up some discussion points on the imbalance.

The school trustee noted that, if it hadn’t been for the extra funding the secondary school has received from Wells Gray Community Forest over the past few years, the school would be much depleted from where it is now.

CSS principal Darren Coates said secondary school budgets are primarily based on the number of full-time equivalent students attending.

The formulas have been changed to recognize the challenges rural schools face, but they are still faced with the situation of just one or two students seeking to take an upper level course.

This can be addressed using video-conferencing or distance learning. Some students do well at using alternative education methods while others do not, Coates said.

If CSS might lose a teacher, Raft River Elementary School could see its staff increase by one to 12 teachers.

Enrolment at Raft, which had been down last year to 260, is now back to 290, said principal Shaun McKenna.

Almost one new student per week has been registering since March.

How many will still be at the school next September is a question he didn’t know the answer to.

The number of students at Vavenby Primary School has more than doubled from five last year to 12 this year. The number at Blue River School has also increased to 12 or 13.

So long as the numbers in the smaller schools remain consistent, it is unlikely the school district would close them.


Clearwater Times