Kootenay Lake school district chair Lenora Trenaman and trustee Curtis Bendig are drafting a letter to the government urging action on child poverty and the creation of a poverty reduction and economic inclusion plan.

Kootenay Lake school board urges action on child poverty

Board chair Lenora Trenaman and trustee Curtis Bendig will draft a letter to Premier Christy Clark.

Child poverty was on the tip of everybody’s tongue at Tuesday night’s Kootenay Lake school board meeting. Representatives from a variety of interest groups urged the school board to do away with multi-tiered school fees that create a quasi-privatized school system, and the board voted to send a letter to Premier Christy Clark urging her government to create a poverty reduction strategy.

“This is bigger than just education,” said trustee Curtis Bendig, who introduced the motion. He noted that B.C. currently has the highest poverty and child poverty rates in Canada, and does not have a plan to address it.

The board voted unanimously in favour of sending the letter, which will be drafted by Bendig and chair Lenora Trenaman.

“There’s never enough money for education,” said Trenaman. “There’s never enough money for families, and we feel it in our schools. You heard it when we talked about fees, you heard it when we talked about poverty in our district. We have been talking about this for a long time.”

Trenaman said teachers and administrators have been coming up with creative ways to get students the support they need, but they’re not being supported financially by the government. In many cases, teachers pay out of pocket for essentials such as food and supplies.

Meanwhile the students suffer.

“We know that children who are hungry don’t learn well. We know children who are cold or who need clothing, they can’t focus. For that in itself, this is difficult. But if you have a family that can’t afford three square meals a day or runners, and then we put fees on top of that, how can we help them?”

She said the government needs to take action.

“We would like to see our province take the full initiative, take the bull by the horns and start taking care of our kids.”

Trenaman said she feels conflicted about charging children additional fees.

“Legally we can do this, but with our values, that’s where the challenge is. Because we want to provide for these kids. I think it’s pretty safe to say that all the trustees believe in public education and believe it should be publicly funded,” she said.

“There’s fees, and then there’s fees, and then there’s fees on top of that, because they’re not properly funding public education.”

Bendig noted that Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall recently introduced legislation urging the government to address child poverty as well, for the fourth time in four years.

“This is legislation that would address our concerns,” he said.

Creston Valley Teachers President Becky Blair took the opportunity at the end of the meeting to add her voice to the debate, saying that the current fee system would have excluded her when she was a student.

“Ask any teacher. Most parents are not going to ask for help. My parents would not have come forward, and I would not have gotten that art class. Public education is in a position right now, you have to realize, where we’re really struggling,” she said.

“Every piece of money hurts.”

Nelson and District Teachers Association president Paul Boscariol said the fees are a cause of concern for everyone, with the system creating a hierarchy of students.

“We’re creating a huge wedge in accessibility. We’re quasi-privatizing by doing this. It’s very much like sending your kid to private school.”

Bendig said he hopes the government gets the message.

“One of the greatest tools we have as a society is a strong, well-funded education system that will help raise our students out of poverty. When the government looks at this I hope they see a universally accessible public education program as an important part of the future of this province.”


Just Posted

Seven Nelson rec projects granted Columbia Basin Trust funding

Nelson’s baseball and tennis clubs were the big winners

UPDATE: Two-car accident closes Highway 3A at Thrums

Road expected to open for single-lane alternating traffic at 2 p.m.

1919: Hudson’s Bay Company gets an addition, council votes to exclude ‘undesirable enemy aliens’

Greg Scott brings us five Nelson Daily News stories from a century ago

Call a foul on cancer with the Pink Whistle Campaign

Local basketball referees are raising money for cancer research

Man found dead identified as Andreas Pittinger

Pittinger was known locally for hosting a radio show

VIDEO: Canada’s flag turns 54 today

The maple leaf design by George Stanley made its first appearance Feb. 15, 1965

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Plecas won’t run in next election if B.C. legislature oversight reforms pass

B.C. Speaker and Abbotsford South MLA says he feels ‘great sympathy’ for Jody Wilson-Raybould

Workshop with ‘accent reduction’ training cancelled at UBC

The workshop was cancelled the same day as an email was sent out to international students

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

Judge rules Abbotsford home must be sold after son tries to evict mom

Mom to get back down payment and initial expenses

Trump officially declares national emergency to build border wall

President plans to siphon billions from federal military construction and counterdrug efforts

Snow turns to slush, rain as it warms up across B.C.’s south coast

Some areas are already covered by more than half a metre of snow following three separate storms

Father to be charged with first-degree murder in Amber Alert case

11-year-old Riya Rajkumar was found dead in her father’s home in Brampton, Ontario

Most Read