Budget cuts felt in the classroom

Re: Finishing school in spite of the system, Chilliwack Progress, May 27).

The touching story of Sebastian White struck a chord with me, and I felt the other side of the story needed to be addressed.

This article discusses how MCFD and Youth Services help and support our youth. What it fails to mention is how the Chilliwack School District would like to provide help and support for these youth. That is because disappointingly, it does not. Last year alone, the Chilliwack School District cut funding from its budget, and that included a large part to alternative education: the kind of program that helped get Sebastian White back on track and back into the regular school system. Educational Assistant positions were cut back on time, with a few jobs being cut entirely. That means less support was provided this year in these alternative programs to help students who struggle academically. In addition, last year funding was cut to food budgets which provide food for youth who may not get much at home, or who are couch surfing without any means of purchasing food for themselves. A quote from Sebastian White from your article states: “The thing is, I’m lucky. I’m a really strong person, I’m charismatic, intelligent, and it was easier for me, even when I was in a position where I felt powerless.” What about the other 200 plus youth in Chilliwack that have been identified as functionally homeless or face abuse, addiction, or neglect at home and may not be as strong, charismatic, or intelligent as Sebastian? What about those children who feel lost and do not have the inner strength to carry on?

Sadly, the budget cuts employed by the School District last year also cut back on on-site Counsellors in the alternative programs as well as Learning Assistant teachers. Where students are the most at risk for needing help dealing with home problems and personal struggles, where they may not be as strong emotionally as Sebastian White, the on-site counselling has dropped from full time to two days a week and the Learning Assistance has practically disappeared. Teachers and support staff at these alternate schools are our unsung heroes and supporters of these lost children. With all the cutbacks and lack of support from a District whose graduating students are lagging behind, teachers and staff in alternate settings spend their own time, money, and heart and soul trying to make it work for students that the District appears to have forgotten. Sebastian White is to be commended for his strength and perseverance; however I wish it was that way for all vulnerable children. The lack of investment by the District of at-risk youth and alternative education sends messages of inadequacy to these students and is directly related to the failure of these schools to meet their needs. If we would like things to change, we need to see support for the staff working with at-risk youth and funding for these schools increased rather than drastically decreased in order to ensure the success of these children for the future.

Name withheld by request

Just Posted

Mixed bag of weather ahead for Chilliwack

Week starts off with rain before clearing for sunnier days midweek

Watercolours by late Chilliwack artist to be unveiled at Yarrow Library

The public is invited to a special unveiling of three of Heinz Klassen’s watercolour paintings

Yarrow Library one of the stops on Cubetto’s grand tour

FVRL’s friendly wooden robot, Cubetto, travels throughout Fraser Valley to teach programming basics

No home for Agassiz Community Garden on school district land

The garden is still homeless after SD78 said no to the society using the McCaffrey School property

Chilliwack PEO: ‘We who are sisters’

International oganization celebrating 150 years of service

‘No answers:’ Canadians react to Sri Lanka bombings that killed hundreds

The co-ordinated bomb attacks killed at least 207 people and injured 450 more on Easter Sunday

RCMP confirm witnesses say body found at Kelowna’s Gyro Beach

Police tape is blocking part of the beach and several RCMP officers are on scene.

Police say ‘no major incidents’ at 4/20, Vancouver Park Board assessing

The first smoke-out held since legalization saw 60,000 people at Vancouver’s Sunset Beach

VIDEO: Langley firefighters spend hours battling blaze in vacant home

Cause of the late-night fire in Willoughby is still under investigation

B.C. fire department rescues kittens

Enderby homeowner not aware kittens in wood pile near garbage pile fire that got out of hand

RCMP looking for witnesses to four-vehicle crash in Burnaby

Police suspect impaired driving was a contributing factor

QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Take this short quiz and put your knowledge to the test

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

Most Read