Adopt-a-School: School reeling from severe budget cuts

posted on January 15, 2015

By Gerry Bellett, Vancouver Sun | Link to Article

By Gerry Bellett, Vancouver Sun | Link to Article

British Columbia schools have been subjected to budget cutbacks in recent years, but one day in November 2013, the families of the 2,000 or so students attending New Westminster secondary awoke to find the school’s budget had been pushed off a cliff.

The year previous, the budget had been $800,000.

Now it would be a pittance — a mere $65,000 — almost a 90-per-cent reduction.

Everything not deemed essential went overboard: learning materials, planned technology improvements, school supplies, field trips, athletic participation, artistic performances, guest speakers.

Oh, and any food youth worker Carl Lewis had to feed a group of at-risk students under his wing.

Where once Lewis had the means so those of his 60 students — many living in impoverished conditions at home — could get a free lunch in the cafeteria or a bus ticket to bring them to school, if needed, now he had nothing.

“It affected a lot of things at the school,” said Lewis.

For a time there was a flurry of news reports about the cuts and public alarm, but after a while it all died away, lost amid the clamour of a provincial school system at war with itself as teachers and the government fought it out in classrooms and the courts.

Read more