With costs of living rising as a result of global inflation, the BC government has announced a new fund that seeks to help make returning to school easier for families.
Announced on Monday, the Student and Family Affordability Fund will see $60M go directly to school districts, helping with things such as expanding meal plans for students, providing school supplies, and covering fees for school field trips.
Each school district is expected to get a minimum of $250,000, with many receiving much more than that, according to allocation information. The school district of Surrey is set to receive the most, at $7,385,112. The school district of Vancouver has been allocated $4,712,638, Coquitlam $3,001,720, Central Okanagan $2,396,709, and Burnaby $2,377,676 to top out the top five. Districts that have been allocated only the minimum are primarily smaller school districts outside of Metro Vancouver, such as Arrow Lakes, Haida Gwaii, and Gold Trail.
Individual school districts will work with their respective parent advisory councils and communities -- as well as local First Nations and Indigenous organizations -- to identify priorities that best help their student populations.
Speaking about the benefits of the new Student and Family Affordability Fund, the superintendent of the Gold Trail School District, Teresa Downs, said “Gold Trail will use these funds to support students and their families who are struggling financially at this time by providing them with school supplies, enhancing our universal lunch program by offering snacks and ensuring that students will be able to participate in after-school opportunities without concern of fees or costs.”
The Ministry of Education and Child Care also announced that the Federation of Independent School Associations (FISA) will provide an additional $3.8M to support families that are struggling with increasing costs of living. FISA consists of independent schools in British Columbia that offer faith-based or alternative education, such as Catholic, Jewish, Islamic schools, as well as Indigenous, University Prep, Montessori, and Special Needs programs.
“Many families in B.C. are feeling the effects of global inflation on daily costs, including groceries, school supplies and other school expenses", said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education and Child Care. “We’re taking action by providing more funding that school districts will use to help meet the needs of families and students.”
The announced $60M will be a one-time infusion. However, the Minister of Finance is expected to also announce further steps to help those that have been affected the most by high inflation. An announcement is expected next week.